Today, June 20th, was our first full day in Beijing. First, we woke up at around 7 and went downstairs to eat what was probably the best breakfast we’ve had all trip. There was so much food, from waffles and omelets to steamed buns and noodles.
We had to switch the itinerary around due to schedule conflict, so we then ended up climbing the Great Wall this morning instead of tomorrow. We left our hotel at 8 in order to get there at around 9:15 so as to avoid heavy crowds and intense heat (it has been in the high 90s and low 100s quite frequently).
When we got there, we split off into smaller groups and were given the option of climbing either one flatter, less crowded section with a decent view or a much steeper section with an amazing view. About half us went on the steeper path, and the other half opted for the other path. Four of us (Charley, Katie, Emma, and Nikki) made it to the top of the steep section, and the view ended up being amazing.
The weather was also really nice, so, although it was cloudy, we were able to avoid the forecasted rain (even though nobody would’ve complained if it had rained). It was also reasonably cool, and it only got cooler and breezier as we got higher.
The steps on both sections of the wall were very uneven, and the heights of the steps ranges from four inches high to probably a foot and a half high, so it was incredibly difficult to climb. Coming back down the wall was a whole other challenge in itself, considering we had to jump down the steeper steps but shuffle down the smaller ones.
After the Great Wall, we went to a jade factory to see how jade is carved, and we ate lunch there as well. Lunch was ok (there was a decent amount of Americanized Chinese food) which I think is kind of against why we came to China in the first place. However, it was really nice after an exhausting morning.
Next, we went to the Ming Tomb, where we were able to learn more about the history of China. The Ming tomb was extremely enjoyable because it not only taught us more about the history of China but it was also an extremely nice and relaxing area where we were able to be in the shade the whole time. The Ming tomb was not crowded so it gave us a really good chance to talk freely and learn from both Zhang laoshi and our tour guide about the history of the tomb and about the Ming themselves.
Then we visited the Birds Nest and the Water Cube, which are some of the sites of the 2008 China Olympic Games. It was probably my favorite part of the day, because, although we didn’t get to go inside either of them, we stood in the same place as so many Olympic athletes, like Tom Daley and Michael Phelps, which was so cool.
Finally, after a long day of walking, we went to a Beijing Peking duck dinner, and it was one of the best meals we had all trip. They carved the duck right near our table, so we were able to watch them carving our meal. Tonight’s meal was really good, it had a lot of great food, however, with the exception of hot tea, we still were only allowed one drink with our meal so most of us were extremely thirsty for most of dinner. Finally, we went to the hotel to relax and sleep.