Today the group visited cultural sites to gain understanding of China’s rich history and culture.  Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City was the first stop.  Tiananmen Square is very large and can hold one million people.  The square is the location where Chairman Mao declared the People’s Republic of China in 1949.  The square also has a mausoleum that holds Chairman Mao’s body in a crystal coffin.  The line was extremely long for this as many Chinese come to pay their respects.  The square also holds many other buildings including the Great Hall of the People were the Chinese parliament meets today.

At the south entrance of Tiananmen Square lies the Forbidden City.  The Forbidden City was the center of the Chinese empire for nearly five centuries.  The emperors were considered to be the Son of Heaven and the intermediary between the yang and yin.  We were able to enter the gates that were once closed off to the commoners.  All buildings have red walls and yellow roofs.  The red symbolizes good luck and the yellow symbolizes nobleness of the emperors.  Each building has a certain number of animals on the roof that indicate its rank.

After a great lunch of Chinese food, the group took to the heights of the Great Wall at the Mutianyu Entrance.  Over one million people were involved in building the wall and the last construction occurred during the Ming Dynasty.    The group took a ski lift to the top of the wall and endured the humidity and very steep stairs to climb to the top of the wall.  Although the smog hindered part of the view, it was still a amazing view and experience!  Once completed, we took toboggans (speed slideway) and raced to the bottom to meet the bus.  Before getting on the bus we had our try at negotiating prices at a small market and got some great deals on souvenirs! To end the day we ate at a great restaurant that served Peking Duck.  This is a signature dish in Beijing that is served with very thin pancakes, onions, garlic, spices, and a special sauce.   The duck and all the sides served with it were very delicious!   These meals are giving some of us a chance to perfect our chopstick ability!