The past four (and a half) months of my life have been an incredible journey, and Beijing has certainly been a supplement to that sentiment. We have visited many places of interest and experienced some interesting cultural differences here in Beijing, but for the sake of you readers I will be as succinct as Chandraly possible. We found that our hotel is conveniently located aside the Forbidden City, and as we were exiting our taxi upon arrival an American couple sporting southern accents shouted a bit loudly to the driver, “CAN… YOU… TAKE… US… TO… TRAIN… STATION? WEST… BEIJING… STATION? YOU… KNOW?” while simultaneously exerting exaggerated body gestures which had absolutely nothing to do with trains, directions, or stations that I could see. I explained to the driver in Chinese where they needed to go and on their way into the car with their luggage, they said to us: “You will love it here!” It was a promising start to our trip indeed. Some places of interest we’ve been to include, but are not limited to, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, Beihei Park (where the famous Baita is located, a giant white temple), Ming Tombs, a jade factory, a pearl factory, a silk factory, the Great Wall, and the splendid night market which serves a variety of edible delights. That is, of course, if you are delighted in eating such things as starfish, snakes, silkworms, scorpions, tarantulas, sharks, budgerigars, and the like. And now I shall present to you some fancy photographs taken at some of the sites, with some brief highlights of our time here.
In the Night Market: Our farewell to Cody (he left yesterday to travel to Xi’an) was walking along the night market and drinking some cold Chinese beer. This market consists of a string of shops connected and lit with red lanterns alongside a busy street downtown, and as foreigners pass by the vendors shout things such as, “HELLO! HELLO! SNAKE! STARFISH! SHARK! HELLO! YOU WANT EAT? SO DELICIOUS! SO CHEAP! HELLO!” One particular vendor sells banana cakes, and even as Trenton ate one earlier in the week the man kept saying, “Banana! Banana!” So as we walked past the same man, I looked over to him and yelled, “BANANA?!” He confirmed in response: “BANANA!” I peered doubtfully in jest and spouted again, “BANANA?” And again, he confirmed that the cakes were, indeed, made of banana. This exchange continued for a hilariously drawn-out amount of time, until we finally left the market and explored more of Beijing’s nightlife.
On the Great Wall: As our group (consisting of Trenton, me, a new friend from Colorado named Cody, and two Australians our age as well, Adrian and Sara) walked upon the snowy Great Wall, we ran into many people (mostly from European countries, a few from the US) who asked us, “Did you guys walk the whole way?” We relentlessly replied, “Yes – all 8850 kilometers!” I added, “In fact, you see that flag off in the distance? We were the ones who put it there.” (We weren’t!) It was a great trip.
Fun fact about the Temple of Heaven: The main attraction at this massive park and array of temples is the “Round Mound” which is situated in a circular forcefield of awesomeness. Well, a big and circular area. Within this area is the “mound” as you can see in the picture, and when you stand on it and speak you can hear your voice resonates all around you. The emperors used to use this mound to speak to the gods, as their voice would project into the heavens.