Today was an interesting day, to say the least. From doing Taichi in the temple of heaven and earth to losing one of our own today was full of adventure! We started the day in Tiananmen Square where we saw the longest line I have seen outside an amusement park. There was a 3-hour wait to see the body of Chairman Mao! As we walked through the square toward the forbidden city we saw the giant portrait of Mao and purchased Rolexes (fakes of course, lol). Within the city, we learned about the lucky numbers of 6 and 9 and how the doors in the ”city” that housed the emperor were decorated with 9 by 9 nails to bring the emperor the most luck. We then had the opportunity to see several ancient artifacts from the time of the emperors and explore the emperor’s garden. We learned the history of the forbidden city in that it housed the emperor and subjects could only enter with an invitation from the emperor. The rear of the city was reserved for high ranking men only, with the exception of the empress on her wedding day. Being brought into this part of the city was considered to be the highest honor of the empress’s life.
After the forbidden city we went to local houses that were built in ancient China as well. We were given a tour of the neighborhood and got to see the inside of one of these houses. From there we went to the temple of heaven and earth where we had a tai chi lesson followed by an exploration of the palace. We learned that this is where the emperor would fast for 3 days to focus on communication with his father, the god of the heavens. Joe told us that it is unknown if the emperor actually did this, but this was necessary to reinforce the idea that the emperor was, in fact, the son of the god of the heavens. This relationship was vital to the success of the empire because it gave a valid reason for why a god’s son could not perform miracles like make it rain or temperatures change. Unfortunately, as we were boarding the bus to return to the hotel we discovered that we had left someone behind. To make matters worse this person did not have data making it difficult to track them down. We ultimately found him and departed. It was on our trek back to the hotel where we said our final goodbye to uncle Joe, our tour guide.
Today I also learned a curious part of Chinese culture. At lunch, Dr. Li informed us that where in America it is common to drink cold beverages to cool one’s self down this is not the case in China. Here it is a common belief that if you are hot you should drink hot drinks to make yourself sweat which will, in turn, cool you down. I am slowly seeing that the different trains of thought between the US and China permeate to every day and the mundane. These differences continue to spark my interest and make me think about other everyday tasks that could be don’t completely yet yield the same result.