Our first full day in the downtown! After a delicious breakfast at the hotel, we set out to visit the Summer Palace, a historical site where the emperor and his family used to spend their summers and vacations. The details in the palace were something else…every plant, building, walkway, and rock had an important meaning. The palace puts a new definition on precision. One of the most impressive parts about it was the “Long Corridor”. This corridor, built for the emperor’s mother, is the longest outdoor corridor in the world. Taking over 10 years to build, the structure has over 17,000 paintings on the ceiling. Like I said, a new definition of precision. Another interesting part we got to see was a Buddhist temple. Built for the emperor, the temple has several giant Buddha’s inside as well as an assortment of other ideologically important figures. The temple itself was built in 1750, 26 years prior to the founding of the United States. This puts things into perspective. Often, in the US, we’ll talk about buildings and places like they were in use a long time ago but, for a large part of the world, this time frame is nothing. There has been country-wide ruling a China long before any Europeans were settling in America. It is always important to check oneself, and this trip has greatly reminded me of that. Sometimes, it is best to sit back and soak in a new place rather than trying to input your own culture or ideas in.
Other than a tour of the Summer Palace, we got to enjoy an afternoon and evening downtown. We were able to roam and get some food at a street market for lunch, as well as better explore the district we were in. Street food is always a treat. Here, I was able to see scorpions, millipedes, squid, octopus, as well as some mystery meats that were cooked in all kind of ways. While I opted to not try all of them, I did enjoy some nice glazed strawberries on a stick, a delicious treat I doubt you could get in the United States.
For dinner, we got to enjoy traditional Peking Duck, A delicacy that has been in China for many years. After, dinner we were able to walk around for a little bit and enjoy our last night in the country. As we pack for our flight tomorrow, I am reflecting on all of the amazing parts of the trip and all I’ve learned. It really was something special.