A Square, a City, and a Temple

Today was a day filled with culture, culture, culture. We began the day with a visit to Tian’amen Square, where we got a good look at not only the square itself, but also the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum of China. We then proceeded into the Forbidden City, greeted by a large portrait of Mao. The city itself was stunningly ornate, consisting of numerous red buildings decorated in gold, blue, and green designs. My favorite part of the premises was the palace garden, filled with lush greenery, winding trees, and a building formed into a dove grey cave. From there, we headed to a famous hutong, which was a nearby neighborhood that historically housed the family of those who were important to the palace. We took rickshaws through the winding alleyways that had been passed down from generation to generation. We were also lucky enough to see and hear firsthand from a gentleman who lived and grew up in the hutong. After that visit, we made our last stop to the Temple of Heaven. We were greeted by a sprawling garden of pine trees planted in stone ground. When we finally reached the Temple itself, the view was breathtaking; it was a cone-based structure, also red with intricate gold and blue designs. It featured creamy white steps and pots upon pots of pink and red flowers, almost so beautiful that one could forget the much darker history of sacrifice that took place inside the structure. The Temple is surrounded by a large park where locals have been known to walk, sit, and carry out their morning exercises. We were given the opportunity to experience a traditional form of those exercises firsthand through a Tai Chi class. The Tai Chi master ended the class with a demonstration of a fluid routine, giving us an amazing example of both the beauty and athletic control that comes with Tai Chi. 
As we had reached day 4 (5, if you count our travel day), jet lag was starting to heavily seep in. After returning to my room around 5:30 pm, I immediately fell asleep for the day. A tiring, but fruitful day!

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