Eat Your Brains Out

Today was our final day and Beijing, and even though I was sad, I was excited to visit the historical sites that were planned for the day. Our first stop was Tienanmen Square, which is right in the center of the city. When we got there, I learned that it is also the largest city square in the world. The square is home to many different buildings for example the parliament building is in the square along with a history museum of China. There is also a large hall with the preserved body of Chairman Mao and many people wait hours in the early morning just to get a five second glimpse of his body.  We could also see two remaining sections of the center wall which originally surrounded the entire city. As we walked into the center of the square, we could truly see how many people were there. Our tour guide Joe told us usually the massive square was filled with people, but we got lucky since only 70% of the square was full. As we progressed on into the Forbidden City, we also learned that not many people were allowed inside, only around 80,000 people a day. Once we entered the Forbidden City, we saw a massive compounded, with many similar buildings with red sides and a yellow/red tiled roof. We learned that the red symbolizes happiness and the yellow roof symbolized royalty since the emperor wore yellow garments. I learned as we continued to walk through the Forbidden City that even though many of the buildings are very ornate and elaborate, they all symbolize something and serve a purpose. The compound seems to keep going and going, but at the end we saw how the builders dug out a large moat to protect the compound then used all the earth to make a large hill with a pagoda on the top.

View of the Forbidden City

Next, we traveled to a local Hutong and went to visit a traditional home that had been lived in for 3 generations and over 100 years. The concept of a Hutong interested me, since this one was located right downtown and we were told that the price of the homes there were very expensive. Rather than putting up a high-rise apartment complex, they have these traditional homes. It is a good example of the Chinese moving forward, but also not wanting to forget the old, traditional ways. After our visit, we went to a typical Beijing restaurant and this is where the title comes into play. They had some dishes that we have already had, but some new ones that were odd to say the least. The one in question was fried chicken, but the entire fried chicken including the head and feet. I ended up trying the brain of the chicken with a friend and to many shocked reactions, it tasted very good albeit mushy.

Our last visit for the day was the Temple of Heaven which was only 500 meters away from the restaurant. The Temple was much smaller than the expansive Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City but was just as ornate and beautiful. We learned that the temple itself was a prime example of wooden Chinese architecture and was completely held together without any nails. Just like the Forbidden City, the temple had colored roof tiles, but this time they were a different color. The lower structures had green roof tiles which represented the earth while the temple itself had blue roof tiles which represented the emperor’s humble attitude. The temple was higher up also which gave an overview of the entire downtown of Beijing.

The Temple of Heaven

Finally, once we were done with all our activities for the day, we took the subway down to the Beijing snack street. Once we arrived at the street, we started looking at all the different options. We finally selected one of the larger restaurants with many different options. We purchased a variety of foods ranging from cream puffs to roasted beef back to chicken feet to bean paste treats. While it was kind of suspicious since it was street food, it was all very delicious, and I ate everything. While everything I have seen and done so far has been amazing, being able to try various different foods was a fun experience and I can’t wait to try and find some of these dishes back in the United States.

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