Today was our last day in China, and it seems like we just got here yesterday but also like I’ve known the people on this trip for years, not less than 2 weeks. This morning we headed to the Yu Garden, which was a 15th century garden complex in the middle of the city that a rich merchant built to impress his parents. And boy, is it impressive. The gardens themselves are gorgeously maintained and planned, and the accompanying buildings are richly colored and full of traditional Oriental architecture.
There is a huge rock structure in the middle of the gardens called the Rockery. It was hauled in pieces from all over China, and was put together using lime and sticky rice. Our guide heavily emphasized to not eat lime and sticky rice in quick succession because it has a tendency to form cement.
After a bunch of photo ops and mock photo shoots, the group was set loose in the accompanying marketplace, which was ideal because I still hadn’t bought most of my souvenirs. We bartered our hearts out, and I got most of my smaller gifts for my family and friends for less than 150 RMB (~$21).
We had approximately 4 hours of free time before our final presentations and farewell dinner, so my group met to finalize the presentation. After we parted ways, a bunch of the engineers and I went to a convenience store down the street and got cups of noodles for lunch in addition to some weirdly flavored chips, like grilled squid and another one of those egg cakes from the bakery.
After lunch, the entire group met up and walked to a nearby hotel to give our final presentations on our companies. They went well and all of the ideas were innovative and interesting. After the presentations, we walked to a restaurant where we were joined by the head of the Asia Institute for a farewell dinner. The food was a mixture of Indian and Chinese, but the highlight of the meal was the chai and the lamb skewers. After many touching and heartfelt speeches from Dr. Li, our program coordinators William, Orange, and Hillary, Jordan, and a few students, we were presented with gorgeous parting gifts from the Asia Institute: scrolls.
All in all, this was an amazing trip and I will forever remember it with fondness. Hopefully I’ll move back to Shanghai someday soon.