Our first full day in Beijing started with a gift: a 9:30 a.m. wakeup time. Sleeping in was magical!
Tiananmen Square was our first destination. An enormous flower sculpture adorned the area in celebration of the Chinese National Holiday.
The place was packed! Imagine Six Flags or Disney World on the busiest day of the season–now triple the crowd volume.
From there, we walked to the Forbidden City. Our tour guide, Ben, told us several interesting facts about this walled city, including its 9,999 rooms and the division into three sections for political affairs, social events, and living quarters. Other things we learned about the Forbidden City: the concubines were divided into a three-tiered system and eunuchs were used to transport the concubines to the Emperor’s quarters each evening.
The size, architecture, and history of the city were incredible, yet I was struck by an overwhelming sense of isolation. It was difficult to imagine that so many lived and died within the walls without ever seeing the outside world.
Afterward, we had lunch at the Crown Plaza (I’m now addicted to green tea ice cream and dim sum) then boarded the bus for the Silk Market to bargain for more goodies.
From there, we went to a karaoke bar for dinner and singing with the local UTA alumni. It was a blast! We mingled with the alumni, danced, and sang like pop stars.
The evening ended early in preparation for the next day’s trip to Nestle.