Day 33: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Wow, what an amazing, eye-opening, and humbling day. We started off at Tiananmen Square, where we could see the world’s longest road, largest museum, biggest this, greatest that — no joke — then walked through the Forbidden City, which felt like an optical illusion where you’ve walked so far yet find yourself walking through another palace court mimicking the last. The funniest part was when our tour guide said, “And all the tourists visiting China these days…are Chinese.” Fun fact: Mao’s painting on the Tiananmen Gate is repainted every year, thus his fresh face.

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Afterward, the obligatory tourist traps ensued. We headed to a silk factory to see how silk is made (poor silkworms!) then checked out a jade factory, where lunch was served family style. (It’s probably proven that people buy more things after they’re happily fed.) We didn’t buy any silk garments or jade jewelry, but we did get a customized sand painting of the Great Wall!

Finally, we headed uphill to a less touristy section of the Great Wall, the Juyong-guan section. Despite the deceptively warm-looking sunlight, it was extremely windy and dangerous to hike the uneven stairs, but the views were breathtaking. Our tour guide did not withhold the fact that a few Japanese tourists had just died hiking the Great Wall the previous week. (Eek.)

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I should probably mention that in the morning, we drove past the CCTV Tower, and that evening, we passed by the Bird’s Nest and Watercube! It’s one thing to study a building in school and another to see it in person.

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To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about visiting Beijing (after hearing stories from various people), but after today, I LOVE BEIJING!!