Once again everyone got up and looked exhausted. It has been a long but fun trip, and we still have 8 days to go. Today’s adventure began with us visiting Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is where all the current Chinese government buildings can be found. They are pretty buildings, that do remind me of the government buildings we have in DC. They have a monument for fallen soldiers that is a straight point like the Washington monument is. After walking around outside and exploring the current government buildings our tour of the Forbidden City finally began. This was very interesting to see all the old wooden architecture, but if you asked me what everything was there is no way I could tell you, because to me they all look the same. Our tour guide “uncle Joe” gave us some insight to the Ming and Ching dynasty’s emperors way of life. Times were brutal back then, and one wrong movement and the emperor would condemn your family for generations. The most interesting part of the tour for me was how the builders dug a mote around the city and put all the dirt into one big mountain behind the city where the emperors living quarters reside. We received many pictures by the Chinese people visiting the city. It was honestly overwhelming at some points. Random strangers would take pictures and selfies of us while we weren’t even looking. When we took a group picture we would have a stranger use our phones to take the picture, but then random people would come up and take the same picture with their personal phone. I have never seen anything like it.
Around 11 am we walked to the bus to go for lunch. I have to say we say a class of what looked like preschool kids all dressed up in uniforms. Let me say that it may have been the cutest thing I have seen all trip. After lunch we took a Hutong tour. Hutong means ally. When you drive through these areas they look like impoverished little towns. What really confused me was I was seeing Mercedes and Mini Coopers everywhere. As it turns out the people in these communities are not allowed to change the outsides of their houses because they are historic landmarks of Beijing, but they can do anything they want to the inside. They are very beautifully finished on the inside. They are near the center of Beijing, so the houses are worth serious money. The one that we visited is worth 9 million dollars. If I lived there I would just sell the house and move somewhere else.
The last programs guided part of our day was our excursion at the Temple of Heaven. Upon arrival we completed a Taiichi class. Taiichi is supposed to be serious and relaxing, but I couldn’t help but laugh at everything we did. It was still a fun experience. We then ventured through the park to the temple. Again “Uncle Joe” gave us some detail on the history of the temple and how it was used. The emperor would use the temple to pray for certain things from the god. The park surrounding the temple was used for raising animals for sacrifice by the emperor. The animal carcasses would be burned so the smoke would rise and touch them with the gods. The entire temple is made of wood and does not use even one nail. It is honestly incredible.
At night a bunch of us went to a restaurant called Hot Pot. There are soup broths that you cook different things you order in. One of our program advisors, Liliana, came with us and took care of ordering the different foods. She ordered some plain foods, but also some surprise ones. She made us eat duck gizzard, ducks blood, and pig throat without tell us what it was. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t say I would order it on my own. Liliana also lied and claimed it was my birthday because of the unique thing they do for people birthdays. They went over the top with a singing sign and a cake made of fruit. The fruit was good though.
When we got back to the hotel we found out that many people had fallen ill and were throwing up. A few were taken to the hospital, which is not good because we must catch a train to Xi’an at 6 am. I guess we will see what happens tomorrow.