Day 4: Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven

Looking at the schedule for this day, I could already tell that it was going to be very long and exhausting — we were going to the Forbidden City, allies of Beijing, Temple of Heaven, and having a taichi class! When we arrived at Forbidden City, I couldn’t believe how many visitors were actually there. There was an endless sea of people. Fortunately, both tourist sites were so massive that avoiding bumping into people was pretty easy.

Joe, our tour guide, filled us in on the history behind all of the tourist sites. His storytelling was interesting and left a deep impression on me.

One thing that really stood out to me was how people were openly taking photos of my group. During our visit to the Forbidden City, a lady approached my friend and me and asked to take a picture. I assumed she didn’t want me to be in the picture because I’m Chinese and don’t stand out that much. However, she still wanted a picture with me. I later asked Francis (one of our program coordinators) why this was so. She was just as surprised as I was, but said perhaps it is my ombréd hair or makeup style.

At the Temple of Heaven, when I was posing for a picture, a group of men gathered around and took pictures of me too. Although it was slightly uncomfortable, I just tried to ignore them. It’s interesting to see how the cultures of taking photos of strangers is different from America. In China, people openly take pictures without a care, whereas it is the opposite in America.

To end the day, we received taichi lessons from a local master. Our taichi class was very fun! Taichi is a lot harder than it looks, much like yoga. Our instructor was very nice, and he has even inspired me to search for taichi classes back at home!

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