On the early morning of April 2, 2017, Jenny took us to the Emperor’s summer palace. The emperor used this palace during the summer as a relaxing paradise away from the inner city. This palace is more like a national park. It includes a lake, multiple islands, temples, and living quarters for the emperor, empress, and his many concubines. Although we did not spend a great deal of time here, we were still able to see many of the great sights. My favorite was the long corridor. This is the longest painted corridor in the world. It stretches along the lake and has beautiful depictions of Hangzhou. This was a gift to the emperor’s mother because she missed her home town of Hangzhou.
After leaving the crowded streets of the summer palace, we enjoyed an authentic Beijing noodle style lunch. It was served with a verity of vegetables, meats and sauces. This was a great cultural experience as well as a way to decompress after the summer palace.
The Forbidden city and Tiananmen square was much bigger than I expected. It comprised of thousands of rooms that were used for living, working, ceremonies, and other uses for the emperor. The palace itself is a kilometer long. Pacing through each layer of the palace was very interesting to see how each palace changed. As we reached, the gardens and living quarters it was cool to see were they actually lived and walked as the emperor and empress. Jenny explained to us that the empress was actually more of a political marriage. The emperor most likely did not love the empress; instead, he had his mass selection of concubines.
After leaving the Forbidden City, we decompressed at the hotel. Dinner was served at a dumpling restaurant. They served multiple types of dumpling, vegetables, and meats. Our last night was spent in the Karaoke club. You are your group rent out a room and sing your heart out. We had solos by The J Tulungen, The Great Jessica Harding ft. Miss Hayes on back up and many other great artists. All and all it was a great trip and one of the best experiences of my life. I would like to thank everyone for his or her support and allowing his or her amazing children to join me on this experience.
WAKE UP!!!” Mr.Shin hollered at Chris and I.
With such a bright start to the day, we raced to meet the group at the lobby at 7:30 am. From there we took the tourist bus to the Great Wall of China. Upon arrival, we had the opportunity to take a cart lift up to the actual wall. After the scary unstable ride, we were all glad to reach safety on the sturdy rocks of the Great Wall. After many pictures and great experiences we took the toboggan down. After only losing a piece of Devon’s leg, we sprinted to Subway for a quick bite before the roasted duck place. Having left the Great Wall of China with only 1 hour before our reservation at the restaurant, we knew we were in deep trouble.
Our great tour guide, Jenny was able to arrange for the restaurant to serve us food before they closed. Arriving an hour after the food was served due to traffic, we were able to enjoy the best cold Beijing roasted Duck we have ever eaten. After the great dinner, we came to the hotel for a great relaxing time. After a few hours of relaxation, we treated our bodies with more food. The hot pot place was great! Although many struggled keeping track of the meat they were cooking. Overall, our April fools day was great.
Yesterday we went white water rafting. Although it was raining and the rapids were mellow, we still had a blast.
At the end of the night, we had a closing ceremony to signal the end of the trip. This consisted of the team sitting in a circle and passing a candle around. When each person got the candle, they would share what they learned on the trip.
Today (4/3), we visited the Poas Volcano and several souvenir shops. We’re now staying in San Jose, Costa Rica for a night. We have an early flight tomorrow morning and are expecting to be back at Culver last Tuesday night.
-lauren Lukac ’18
Although we were immensely sore from the hiking done at the temple yesterday, today had a quite elegant beginning as we left our very comfortable hotel to visit an ancient mansion. To me, the most incredible part of the palace was how much it winded around. The entire design of the complex was maze-like, making us realize the importance and wealth the original homeowner had to offer. After conferring with the adults in our group, we discovered that the walls were built so high and the paths so narrow in order to deter thieves and prolong their escape (to make it harder to escape). After trespassing throughout the palace, we decided to walk up and down a street to explore the culture of this part of Hangzhou.
Let me set the scene: 15 people who traveled from America to a small shopping street in China that smelled of stinky tofu while kids on a school trip ran around eating cotton candy shaped like flowers. This was a sensory overload if I’ve ever encountered one. Although it started out rather…intense, we quickly became entranced in the bustle of Hangzhou. As we traversed the street, we began to enjoy our day more and more.
We also went to the silk museum today, where we learned the way to tell the difference between real and fake silk. After our education, we were free to explore the museums giftvshop, where expensive and plush ties, pajamas, bedspreads , and all around clothes were displayed. The fact that the government placed enough value on their silk history to create a beautiful museum shows how influential the material really was.
Overall, the places we toured today revealed the values of China. While the country is developing and powerful, they still place emphasis on the past. I can’t wait to explore China even more over the summer and explore what it has to offer in any category.
Yesterday the team helped at a local soccer camp. After watching younger kids play, our group played in a soccer game. Our group filled in for the missing players on each team. A majority of our group was on one team, while Calloway and Tyler played on the other team. Here are some photos :
After the soccer camp, we came back to the hotel and did a team building activity. This activity is called “the adventure race”. Our team had to split into 4 different groups. We used our homestay groups for this challenge. Each group consisted of 4-5 people. Our challenge was to go to five different locations and complete the activity at each station. After we completed the activity, each team was given 1-3 rubber bands (based on how well the team performed that specific action). Three rubber bands is the most that any team can earn at one given challenge. Our stations consisted of learning how to salsa dance, water activities, cooking tortillas, milking a cow, and interviewing someone in Spanish. At the end of the activity, the whole team had a meeting to debrief. The team realized that we weren’t competing against each other (in terms of number of rubber bands), but working together to accomplish the task at hand.
After dinner, the whole team went to a local festival. At the festival, we danced and ate different types of food.
-lauren lukac ’18