For the blog:
On Tuesday morning as we traveled into the city we experimented on the Beijing subway with how few cubic centimeters we really need to occupy. The pressure from all sides led us to discover that it is far fewer than we customarily assume. We emerged on Tian An Mien Square and strolled in the breeze along the avenue, I gave the students a synopsis of the Chinese revolution to explain the monumental architecture for Mao (Which is now shielded by an enormous HD screen playing advertisements) and Peter Peng pointed out the Great Hall of the People, Chairman Mao's mausoleum, the railway museum and the buildings marking the ancient walls to the city of Beijing. He told us some stories from Mao's life, Deng Xiao-ping's government, and the events of June, 1989.
We had the great fortune to be met by Jingmeng's mother at the entrance to the National Museum. Not only had she secured us admission, she had also provided for us the #1 tour guide. We visited exhibitions of ancient bronzes and of Buddhist sculpture from the earliest Chinese Buddhas from the Wei dynasty to Ming porcelain Buddhas. These were enchanting in their variety and their expressions. We then spent a long time in their exhibit of artifacts depicting Chinese history. This exhibit began with million-year old hominid skulls and included examples from little known cultures in the ancient period as well as famous items every text book contains. It is safe to say that everyone's understanding of Chinese history was expanded and revised; this was a wonderful experience.
Lunch was at an Old Beijing noodle shop, with authentic foods and flavors of the 19th century (Prune juice, sesame sauce on greens, noodles with soy beans) after which we went to the Temple of Heaven in its beautiful park. Chinese classical music was broadcast through PA systems, and provided by performers throughout the park. Rosebeds and juniper trees lined the walkways. By then the temperature was at least 95 degrees, and after a full circuit of the Temple and the pathways around it, we all headed back to the hotel to refresh ourselves with showers and a rest before a lovely supper hosted by the Xu family. We were joined also by Star, Jingmeng, and Mo Zhou.
Tomorrow: the Great Wall and the train to Shanghai!
Dublin, NH 03444