Wednesday 17th July - Day 2 – Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and The Museum of China
Wednesday 17th July 2019 - Day 2 - Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and The Museum of China
Another 7:45 am Mandarin wake up call greeted the group to give them time to have breakfast and get ready before the 9:00am departure. Breakfast again gave students the choice to stick safe with toast and croissants or try the more traditional Chinese offerings like noodles and Bao buns. After this it was time to get on our bright orange t-shirts and get on the road.
We started sightseeing at the Forbidden City which is right in the heart of Beijing. As the largest palace complex in the world with over 800 buildings and 9000 rooms, this was the home to centuries of Chinese emperors and entry was 'forbidden' to the common Chinese people. Now that it has opened it's doors and splendour to the world, we toured around the palatial architecture (amongst the 16 million other visitors yearly!) and envisioned a time when we might live in gold-gilded rooms with bronzed statues. This gave many opportunities for an SPH photo shoot, Miss Cox now being an expert at organising a group shot in a split second, avoided the Chinese photo-bombing crowd. However, we still experienced the notion of being famous again as Emmie, Abi, Hannah and Josh were stopped countless times for photos by Chinese visitors intrigued with their exotic looks.
After an exasperating and tiring few hours at the Forbidden City, it was time for lunch and we were swept up into a Chinese restaurant where seemingly endless dishes were delivered and now that we're used to the food, our appetites for such are increasing by the meal! By now, all students are embracing chopsticks and even Kaden and Hannah who had initially struggled at first, looks like she was born with Chopsticks in her hand.
After lunch, we went to the grand and spatial National Museum of China and explored the vast collection of Chinese and international statues, coins and artefacts within 90 minutes. Some embraced this and found it to be a highlight of their time with Samee, Kim and Kaden using the time to recreate the many different poses of the statues on display as though they were playing musical statues and paused in the time of the artefact.
The museum led us to the adjoining Tiananmen square – the largest square in city throughout the world. This is the home to the Communist Party building along with the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao and several memorials to China's fallen heroes. This gave us a chance to learn about some of China's most important history and some of the main differences between the historical background compared to our own heritage.
After an exhausting and rewarding day, we stretched our day a little longer for an evening visit to the local supermarket where we stocked up on the essentials of blue Pepsi, dried fruit and octopus, as well as flower tea and stinky fruit sweets. One of the most hilarious moments was when Kim and Miss Cox tried one first and in synchrony looked with utter horror at one another for fear of living up to the 'vomit' fruit name. Returning to the hotel late, it was now time to get some sleep before another fully packed day tomorrow.