From Beijing – 4/1

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.

From Beijing,
Justin Jones

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