Thursday, March 29th
Today was really interesting. As we walked into Tian Anmen Square, Mao Zedong’s face was front, center, and very large. After some nice photos, we entered through the giant archway, and we had arrived inside the Forbidden City. Kevin told me that there 9999 rooms within this imperial palace. We walked through courtyard after courtyard, and saw some sitting rooms furnished entirely in gold. We soon learned that there were small dragons on top of each roof. The number of dragons signified how important the building was, with 10 dragons being the utmost important. After our visit to the imperial palace, we headed to the summer palace. We saw beautiful architecture and a extraordinary marble boat. Overall, a successful day of sightseeing.
Friday, March 30th
Today, I almost got scammed. We went to the pearl markets to buy some souvenirs. I talked to the first shopkeeper, looking to buy a scarf for my mom. She started with her first price, 800 RMB, or $133 for a single silk scarf. After much bargaining, I brought the price down to 100 RMB, or about $16. Through this fun “sport” of bargaining we spent several hours looking around for souvenirs. Then we headed to the airport. The China adventures had ended.
As I sat in my seat and reflected on the experience, I realized I really had an incredible experience. It was fascinating to meet people from the international community. I had formed friendships with the people from Australia, South Africa, Israel, Denmark, and more. I had seen the fantastic research teens in China were doing, and I met people of all ages who really enjoyed learning about science like I did. I realized that a love for learning is universal. The desire to explore other cultures is universal, we exchanged facts and cultures about where all of us came from constantly. To top it all off, as we toured the cultural hotspots of Beijing, we stayed in the nicest hotel I had ever stayed in…all in all, incredible.