Wow, China really is an amazing place. All the historic sites that we have visited have been nothing short of breath-taking. Being able to connect what I have learned about my heritage to the actual places where it all happened is an amazing experience. Over this past weekend we visited the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City.
Visiting the Great Wall lived up to all of my expectations that it would be one of the best experiences in my life. Since the Great Wall stretches throughout China, there are only certain sections that can be climbed. We traveled to one site right outside Beijing and it was our first time outside of the city. After receiving a short introduction from our tour guide and teacher, we broke off into groups and proceeded up to the Great Wall. My group consisted of a few good close friends, Jason, Warren, Carsen, and Lauren. The day before Jason and I had played a full day of basketball so we were already dying of soreness before our climb even began. But you only get to climb the Great Wall once so we definitely pushed our physical limits. After many stops for pictures, countless water breaks, and a little bit of socializing, we finally reached the end of our painful hike and climb to the top of the section. Just as we had imagined, the view was amazing and we really felt chills being able to say that we had climbed the Great Wall. However, what really made the experience great was the way down. At one end of the section, there were both gondolas and toboggans that the public could ride to get down from the Great Wall. Of course we chose to toboggan and it was probably the most exhilarating thing we did in Beijing.
To continue our jam packed weekend, Sunday we checked out Tiananmen Square as well as the Forbidden City. The moment that we arrived to Tiananmen Square we were all shocked as to how big it was. One cool thing about Chinese architecture is that each piece always represents or symbolizes something. For example one of the buildings in Tiananmen Square was supposed to resemble a chair which symbolizes the people sitting back in power. The first thing we visited was Mao Zedong’s memorial. The memorial has his actual body inside, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that you definitely feel chills walking through. It was crazy walking through the memorial of such a prominent figure that made such an impact on history, and it’s a feeling that I’ll never forget. After some pictures in the actual square, we moved on to the Forbidden City. After hearing so much about it and seeing parts of it in the media, the Forbidden City still exceeded my expectations for how beautiful it would be. Although many royal structures were designed similarly, the size and history of the Forbidden City awed all of us.
To round out our fun filled weekend we went to one of Beijing’s most famous restaurants to eat Peking duck. Many past U.S presidents and other important figures had dined there, and it was no wonder why they enjoyed it so much. We all stuffed ourselves to the neck, and it was finally time to head back to our dorms to wind down and get ready for the week ahead.