Today was our last full day in Beijing, and I woke up knowing I wanted to make the most of today and all that Beijing had to offer. Today, we were going to go on a variety of cultural visits to the Forbidden City, Hutong Tour, and Temple of Heaven with a Taichi class! Wow! I never imagined that I would see so many Chinese sites in one day, and it was one of the most memorable ones.
We started off the day with Joe going to Tian’anmen Square, which was nearby. It was thought to be the political capital and center of Beijing, and it was amazing to see be able to stand in the heart of it. As we walked around and explored the Square, as well as took pictures, Joe talked about the rich history of the Square and what it meant to the people of China, who lived under a communist government. It was interesting to see how much people spoke their views out politically as compared to the United States. They said that the closer you get to Beijing, the more careful you have to be about what you say-which I realized was true. After the Tian’anmen Square, we went to the Forbidden City-which was simply breathtaking.
We took a quick tour in the City, where we stopped every few minutes to walk around and take in the beautiful architecture and aura of the place. The Forbidden City was a huge palace that went on for miles and miles dedicated to the emperors in Ancient China, and it was beautiful. The colors were so vivid, and even on the cloudy day, you could see just how much of a marvelous architectural feat it was. It was so impressive to think that so many years ago, people actually lived there and powerful decisions were made in the city that were to chart the path of China forever! As we walked around, I took lots of pictures to capture the moment, and had a lot of fun just trying to take it all in. You know how there are sometimes sights that you wish you could capture forever in your mind, and you never forget? This was one of the sights. It was simply breathtaking, and I enjoyed every minute of it. As we walked around, I tried my best to just soak it all in like a sponge. When we walked outside, we were greeted by multiple people trying to take pictures with us! It was interesting to see how at a renowned cultural site, they wanted to take a few pictures with us. After the Forbidden City, we went to the Hutong area-which undoubtedly, was my favorite part of the day.
After a quick lunch (which had dishes I could now recognize and eat with chopsticks!) we headed to the Hutong. The Hutong is an area that has retained its past cultural heritage through its houses and living style, and is so enriching! I love places such as these, as I am used to seeing them in India, and I had a great time at the Hutong. When we got there, we traveled by a rikhshaw to the home that we wished to go. AHHHHH!!!!! I love rikhshaw rides! At the Hutong tour, we sat in chairs that were from a few hundred years ago, as well as saw many different paintings and other artistic works from so many years ago! The lady who spoke to us about the Hutongs had actually moved there a few years ago, and talked about how multiple families share one courtyard and have a very family-like feeling living culture. I loved how even in the developed city of Beijing, they had retained their culture. She mentioned that these homes were valued at a few million dollars, and hearing that, I was like wow! As we walked through the Hutongs though, I realized that you cannot place a value on the family environment and love that they have for one another. My grandparents would have loved the Hutongs, and I took a lot of pictures to show them back home. I loved how even in the hustle and bustle for Beijing, they loved their simplicity and thrived on it. Imagine if everyone lived like that! After the Hutong tour, we walked back to the bus and went to a beautiful park for a Taichi class.
Taichi-an experience! I thought of it as dancing, because I love dancing, and it was so nice to be in the park being able to learn from a master. This was full integration into the Chinese culture, and many people in the park had a wonderful time watching us. After practicing the Taichi routine a few times, we had a chance to show our teacher what we learned, and I stood in the front. I forgot it when I got up there! But it was so fun nonetheless, and I will definitely be watching some Taichi youtube videos when I return back home.
After we went back to the hotel, a friend and I tried going to the ART789 District, and had quite an adventure trying to get there and back home! The next day would be just traveling, so it was nice to have an early night to rest before the speed train.