Right now, I am sitting on my bed trying to think of what to say. I am alone, since the others have gone to witness a rousing Ping-Pong match between Mark and Mr. Llanque. I have just returned from the hotel lobby where I mailed my six postcards to family and friends. Before that, I ran through a notes document on my iPhone to figure out what gifts for my family remain unpurchased. With all subtlety removed, this means that slowly but surely we are realizing that our remaining days in China are numbered and that quite soon we will be sitting at home, albeit considerably jet lagged, reading for ourselves what our peers and we have chosen to remark about our cherished time in China. But all this sentimentality is for the last blog post (so, for now, even though this is my last blog post, I will spare you the tortures of reading an overly-emotional reflection of our time in China). Okay, sorry, I’m getting off track. I’m making a promise from now until the end of this post to actually remain completely on-topic and state nothing but true facts. All right, here goes nothing.
Today managed to get progressively rainy. We saw the Temple of Heaven as early as we possibly could. I don’t know what expectations we arrived at the Temple with, but whatever they were didn’t compare to the real thing. For one thing, being somewhat asthmatic, I immediately fell in love with the literal forest surrounding the Temple which effectually canceled out all traces of Beijing’s pollution with an accompanying pine aroma. But there was more than trees to this 220 hectare chunk of sacred land, believe you me. We were able to peer into some of the lavish temple used by none other than the Emperor himself with his royal family, and actually explore other temples. In fact, in one part of the land, we were able to make a wish at the Emperor’s place of worship. (my wish definitely did NOT involve college admission…don’t judge me?)
Anyway, after the Temple of Heaven, we were able to put our bargaining skills to the test at one of Beijing’s many supermarkets. After an hour, and a torrent of reasonably priced clothes, briefcases, scrolls, and electronics, let’s just say we were rather successful. Then, we were bussed to a Westernese buffet for lunch. Side note: I feel the need to invent the word ‘Westernese,’ because so many of Chinese urban culture (in Beijing, Shanghai, parts of Xi’an, etc.) has become so cosmopolitan and has effectively (rather enthusiastically) borrowed elements of Western food and media in order to form its own unique blend.
After lunch, we were able to see the more traditional side of Beijing with a tour of the Old City (the Hutong) complete with a rickshaw ride. Then we sat in a coffee shop in the Old City while I practiced writing this post on the aforementioned postcards, blueberry smoothie in hand (decide for yourself if the practice paid off). We then wound the day down with another Hot pot style dinner, this one done the Mongolian way, with one big shared pot, of boiling water.
Well, I think that just about sums it up. Hope you enjoyed our day as much as we did!