Despite our encounter with the Chinese police (more about that later), Seth & Julian are here to bring you today’s update.
By the end of the day, everybody was exhausted. Maybe it was the walk through the Forbidden City that exasperated each and every one of us. More likely it was the 14-hour flight, 12-hour time difference, and the three-hour hike up the Great Wall catching up with all of us. The novelty of the bright sun glaring through our windows as early as 5:00 AM woke most of us up before breakfast. Although the same breakfast was served yesterday, we all were still satisfied, to say the least.
Our local guide Jack offered commentary about the old area of China as we made our way to the Temple of Heaven. Before we entered its gold and burgundy gates, we walked through a public park. It was far from the public parks in America. It may have been the elderly couples ballroom dancing or the intense games of hacky-sack or the unusually fit old men who proved the prowess of the gymnastic abilities of the Chinese. There, we came across Charlie, a two-year-old boy who patiently waited for his mother to finish aerobics. Charlie and his mother come to the park every morning and dance. He blew kisses as we waved our goodbyes.
Surrounded by forcefully persistent street merchants, we made our way into the Temple of Heaven. Kailee was quick to remind us all that a scene from the newest “Karate Kid” was filmed there. Apparently, the temple is supported by 28 pillars of wood with not a single nail.
Often we would find ourselves the subjects of pictures taken by passers-by. Some asked, others kept their distance and posed in front of us.
After a quick ride, we found ourselves in the iconic Tiananmen Square. The events of June 4, 1989 are largely unspoken of in China and soldiers still stand, guarding the truth and the sacred image of Chairman Mao. We definitely found that out. While we were filming a relatively simple stand-up, 3 soldiers approached us and forcefully started speaking to us in Chinese. A plainclothes officer cleared the surrounding area and hurriedly waved onlookers away. Luckily, Bruce and Jack reached us and after a few minutes of banter, they were able to resolve the situation.
The gates of Tiananmen Square once guarded the Forbidden City, a place where entering was once the exclusive right of the Emperor, his family and his concubines. Walking through the palace, we indulged in the rich and distinct heritage of China, learning of the nearly 900 palaces and 8,000 rooms. The walk was concluded with the Imperial Gardens.
There, Tara met Sebastian Terry. “I was walking out of the Imperial Gardens and overheard a man talking about the dedication to a book. I walked over and said ‘I couldn’t help but overhear, but are you writing a book?’ He said it was already written and titled 100 Things and it’s about a hundred things he wants to do before he dies and how it affects other people.” Number 63 was throwing a dart at a map and traveling wherever it stuck. “It landed on Mongolia and he was making a stop in China before he went,” Tara said.
Fried chicken with a honey glaze and some weird gelatin made of the skin of a pig were only two of the several dishes that made their way around the lazy susan for dinner. Throughout the meal, our servers continued to bring out food despite the disappearing space on the lazy susan. We watched a group of young guys who jovially faced-off in a drinking game and we were provided with a humorous interpretation and commentary by Ms. Ritchie. We noticed how it always seemed that during our meals the vegetarians were whisked away to a separate room and served rather bland meals consisting of cabbage, white rice, and water, much unlike our meals.
Until next time …