By: Rui Aguiar `15
Today was our first day in the capital of the Middle Kingdom: Beijing. We woke up in X’ian at about 5am to catch the flight to Beijing, but I can’t describe it because I was asleep for most of it. When we got there we took a short break before we headed to have lunch. I find it worth mentioning that the food in Beijing is my favorite so far. After lunch, our group went to Tiananmen Square. The square was nice but there were a lot of policemen there. At the square there was a memorial to the people who fought in the war against Japan. After that, the group went into the Forbidden City.
My impressions? Big. It is definitely called a CITY for a reason. There were nine gates in total leading into large courtyards that contained different buildings that were important to the emperor. Such buildings included the Emperor’s bank and his library, both of which were facing each other to show the people that the emperor was rich not only in the literal sense but also in the mind. There was also the first (and only) royal telephone line towards the back of the city, a sign of western influence during the Qing dynasty. We saw a building where people used to take the exams that were required to become state officials.
The use of this building might seem strange at first, but exams were extremely important in China. They were held every three years and they determined what job you would get, among other things. Also, in the Forbidden City were statues of lions considered to be perfect guardians by the Chinese people and a jade statue of a hybrid dragon/turtle that the Chinese believed held up the world.
After the Forbidden City our group went to see the circus, which in included tricks such as bicycle skills, ballet, and juggling. The circus was really interesting even if we accept Dahai’s (Mark’s) theory that the plates that the acrobats were spinning we’re actually glued to heir sticks. Finally, our group went to an incredible Peking Duck dinner, where we sat inside a little pond and ate away!