I woke up today knowing it would be a busy day. It was our last day in Beijing, and we were making the most of it. We had a lot of tourism to get through! First up was Tiananmen Square, the famed center square of Beijing. Here, more history has gone down than most other places in the world. It is known for a lot, but it is most notable globally for the massacre that took place there in 1989 (think of the image of the man standing in front of a tank- that is in Tiananmen Square). Since I’m posting this in the US, I can include that last sentence- if the Chinese authorities caught me posting that information I would be arrested! Anyway, when we got there the thing that struck me was the amount of people. I had never seen so many in my life! It was like a sea of humans. We saw Chairman Mao Zedong’s tomb, which was completely surrounded by a line of people waiting to see their dead chairman’s body. This line had to be three or four hours long. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to see their dead ruler so bad. However, the line made sense as the Chinese people worship Mao as a god-like figure for what he has done to help China. We got to see his famed portrait before walking over to the Forbidden City.
My first impression of the Forbidden City can be described with one word- massive! We passed through courtyard after courtyard with seemingly no end in sight. I noticed there were no trees, and there was a reason for this. It was believed that trees offered cover, and the emperor feared ambushes. Every building in city was gorgeous, painted with intricate and colorful designs. We eventually gathered in the back garden, where we regrouped and left for lunch.
Change of plans! Due to a scheduling change, lunch was delayed until after our rickshaw ride through old Beijing. Rickshaws are three wheeled motorized bicycles with two rear seats that are somewhat common alternatives to taxis in China. They took us through a maze of old, single story homes that looked run down. We were informed after the fact that these homes are actually where the rich live, as they are on ground level, are located in a historical part of Beijing, and are very old. Our destination was one of these houses which we were lucky enough to tour. The house was nice, but nothing I would ever live in. after talking with some parrots at the house, it was time for lunch!
After lunch, we visited the Temple of Heaven. It was beautiful like the Forbidden City but in a different way. Here, we performed Tai Chi which was a very relaxing experience. The most notable event, however, was losing one of our own… I will not name names but we all know who I’m talking about. This person made for a funny experience in the Temple of Heaven, although our program coordinators weren’t laughing. In the end of the day, he or she was found and rejoined our group to make one big happy family again.
With the end of this blog post comes the end of my time in Beijing, China’s capital. I had a great experience here and will miss this city. Now, its time for Xi’an!