May 10, 2018
Today was jam-packed with site visits for our group! The day started with a bus ride to Tian’anmen Square. It was cool to walk through the site just because of all the history that has taken place there. Across the square was a giant red building with a square picture of Mao Zedong in the middle. We walked across a bridge to go through that building and found ourselves entering the Forbidden City. The security in the place was very strict because it holds a lot of value in China. It got its name “Forbidden City” because people other than those associated with Chairman Mao were forbidden to enter.
I couldn’t believe my eyes once walking inside because of how huge the Forbidden City is. It ranges from miles upon miles and can hold millions of people inside. As I walked through each doorway, the next area became larger and larger. The buildings were red and yellow for good luck and they were beautiful. The columns were designed with other colors such as blues and greens, and the roofs of the buildings were very detailed with an ancient Chinese style of architecture. I was so impressed by how intricate each building was and the city was just so impressive. It truly felt like a home of royalty and power. As we approached the end of the Forbidden City, we made it to the Imperial Garden. All the colorful flowers and vibrant plants created a breathtaking scene.
After leaving, we had a quick lunch at an authentic restaurant and proceeded to make our way to go on a Hutong tour. For part of the tour, we were able to ride in rickshaws, which was a two-wheeled passenger cart pulled by a biker. The word “Hutong” literally means “narrow alley” and each house has a courtyard surrounded by four sections of the house. This area looked very run down and in awful condition because the government doesn’t allow the people to change the outside of their homes. However, it is completely opposite on the inside. We were fortunate enough to tour a living room of a local family’s home and the inside was unreal. There was fancy furniture, detailed paintings and many antiques. I was completely taken by surprise! This was a unique experience and eye-opening to see a different style of living in Beijing.
Our last site visit of the day was venturing to the Temple of Heaven. Before actually making it to the temple, we stopped in the park and had a Tai Chi class. This man had taught us many different steps and it was cool to learn. We got a lot of stares in the park and a crowd was forming, but the class was a fun experience. Afterwards, we walked through to the temple. Our tour guide said that it was made without any nails, which made the structure even more impressive. It was an amazing sight to see. We ended the night with hotpot at the local mall and I tried duck blood, duck gizzard, and pig throat. Although I normally wouldn’t eat it at home, it was something worth trying (and it didn’t taste too bad either). With a full stomach, I decided to end the night there because we had an early morning tomorrow. Xi’an was waiting for us.