This past weekend my Dad, Step-Mom and I did mainland China. They first arrived in Shanghai and had fabulous things to say about it (bummer I won’t get there before my semester ends), then we met up Friday night in Beijing! I arrived late so we ordered room service, relaxed and caught up. The next morning we were up early and ready to hit the city!
Day 1: First, we visited The Great Wall and took a cable car up to the top. After walking around and talking countless pictures for about an hour, we rode toboggans down – so much fun! We learned there are seven entrances to The Great Wall, but the one we visited was the only one that lets you toboggan down to the bottom (Michelle Obama recently did this, too). Next, we ate lunch at a restaurant called “Schoolhouse,” which had great, fresh food. We stopped at a jade market on our way to our next stop. There, we learned about these family balls and bracelets that are are carved out of jade and passed down from generation to generation. We bought eight bracelets and I plan to give them to my HK friends before we all leave for our home countries. Next, we headed to the Summer Palace, which is where the Emperor would spend his summer months. It is a huge complex with very beautiful buildings of so much color. Finally, we went back to our hotel for drinks and dinner before climbing into bed before 9pm.
Day 2: Up and out by 8am to see Tian’anmen Square and The Forbidden City. The Square is huge and features extinguishers all over to put out the fires of people who try to commit suicide. There are also guards all over, especially near the entrance to The Forbidden City. Our guide told us that there are undercover police, who listen to what the guides are telling their visitors. If they talk about certain topics, they will be cuffed and taken away on the spot. This is where I finally realized and truly felt the effects of communism…a chilling reality. Once inside The Forbidden City, which is massive, our guide shared with us many interesting facts about the history of the Emperors and their concubines. I would love to read a book or watch a documentary on all the things she shared with us. Next, we ate a typical Chinese lunch at a place who’s name translates to “Large Bowl.” I loved all the dishes we got: Beijing roast duck, fried rice, pork buns, baby cabbage, and mixed vegetables that you roll up like a taco. It was so great to try all of their traditional foods. Finally, we visited a silk shop and the Temple of Heaven before catching our flight home to HK. The Temple of Heaven is where the people in power would sacrifice animals in hopes of a good harvest. Throughout our entire trip, one major theme was that every single thing had meaning and a reason for its being there. It was so interesting to hear about all of these ideas!
Now, we are back in HK until Thursday for my final week of school before heading to Thailand, then the US! So much fun lies ahead, but time is flying by, as usual! When I return to HK from the US, I will only have two weeks to take my finals before heading home for the summer…?!