Since I spoke to you last, I've been on many adventures! Last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the BOCOG people (Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) were gracious enough to organize a city tour for all the students from my school! An overview of the tours:
Day 1: Friday: We went to a Water Treatment facility. The workers showed us around the plant, and it was really nice and technologically advanced. It is being used to treat water to use at the Olympics and for the Olympic lake. It was pretty neat.
After the Water Treatment plant, we had lunch, and then headed out to a village called XIang Tang. Here, we visited a couple different spots. First, we visited the grounds, and saw a Temple. It had a beautiful giant Buddha in it. It was gorgeous, and breathtaking. Then we walked to an area where there was a Senior Citizen center. Here, we talked with some of the people who live in the home, who said they are very happy! They even sang us a song. It was nice! One of the old men chatted with Laura and I for a while, even though we couldn't understand what he was saying. He gave us cucumbers out of our garden when he was teaching us the Chinese names for veggies.
Then we saw a section where there were calligraphy writers, and ink paintings. They were also very beautiful! One of my friends, Marc, walked into the room and the man painting looked up and was shocked because the painting he was drawing looked exactly like him! The man painting the picture even took a picture of Marc! It was very funny.
Then we saw some people practizing Tai Chi, which was pretty interesting. We even learned some moves! Then it was back to the bus, for a Welcome Dinner at a restaurant that served Peking Duck--delicious!! It was very funny.
Day 2: Saturday: The Great Wall at Badaling
The second day of the tour we went to the Great Wall. Words cannot describe how beautiful it was. I was shocked and awestruck by how big and beautiful it looked. We had to wait for a long time at the bottom because the Mexican President was in town, so he had a half of the way closed off for him and his people. After they opened it, we got to climb. It was much bigger than I could have ever imagined. We climbed up pretty far, and spent some time at the top. One of the Chinese students, Cindy, told me that in China you are considered a hero if you make it to the top of the Great Wall. She said now that we did, we are all heros. It was very cool.
After the Great Wall, we had lunch, and then headed to the Ming Tombs. These were very interesting indeed! There was an entire underground Palace dedicated to these tombs. The underground part was very cold, and refreshing indeed! It was interesting to see how they respect the dead here. After this, we all headed home for an evening of rest.
Day 3: Sunday: Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace
On the third day we visited the Summer Palace in the morning. It was beautiful--and huge! The palace is set on a beautiful lake, and after Rock (our tour guide) gave us a tour of the area, we all went out on paddle boats! It was very fun! After that, we got lunch, and we then headed to the Old Summer Palace, which was where the palace had been until it was burnt down by the French and I believe, the British. It was mainly ruins, but it was still beautiful to see what used to be a beautiful palace. It reminded me of the ruins in Rome. That night, we went to the Peking Opera, which was also very very beautiful.
That was the entire tour! On Monday, I woke up feeling a little sick. We went to the American Embassy, which was a treat! Then, since we were all dressed up and looking nice, we went to the St. Regis Hotel. We were invited to sit in a private bar, and we were treated to a round of drinks by Paul. Then we went to the Champagne ceremony, and then we went back to the bar to chat. After awhile I left, because I was feeling sick, and went to bed early. (Not to worry--I just have a little cold!)
On Tuesday, we had training with the ONS, or Olympic News Service, which is who I will be taking quotes for during the Olympics. After the training, a couple girls (Laura, Sara, Sylvie, and Rosie) and I all went to North Chaoyang, an area of the city, to go to a place called Jenny Lou's. It is an expatriot (people who live in other countries than their native country) grocery store. We couldn't find it, but we did find a restaurant to eat crepes at!! It was really great--a good break from eating buffet Chinese food. After dinner, we ended up finding Jenny Lou's which was nice to shop at on a full stomach!
On Wednesday, we continued the training, and then came back and rested. And I've already written about what I've done today! So there you are--my second weekly update! I hope you are all doing well! Check out my pictures!
(Click the "photos" tab for photos!)