Beijing – Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Silk and Night Markets
The best way to truly see any city is on foot, and in a city as large as Beijing, public transportation runs a close second. So we began our day headed by subway for the Forbidden City. A vast network of buildings within a high wall, the city was seen only by royals for 500 years. The city’s main gate faces Tien a men Square, the largest public gathering place in the world. The colors of the wooden buildings, red, cobalt blue, turquoise, and, of course, gold, are a stark contrast to the unrelenting gray of the surrounding early spring sky, buildings and pavement of the city beyond the walls.
We regrouped at the far end of the Forbidden City and walked to a restaurant for a delicious noodle lunch, and then took a subway to the Silk Market. The Silk Market is a modern multistory building which replaced an old single story warren of stalls and vendors selling goods. This is the market where students learn that if the price sounds too good to be true…it really isn’t a Rolex, or Raybans, or Uggs. But the thrill is in the chase, and this is where our students learn the important skill of price negotiation, and where instant math skills are important for translate $ into RMB. To say that the salespeople are aggressive is an understatement, but our students were coached ahead of time to keep their wallets close and negotiate!
Heavily laden with bags of new found treasure, we headed for a modern shopping center, and a delicious hot pot dinner. Then a brisk walk to the Night Market. New sights, new smells, new tastes. Exotic, surprising, fascinating. Bugs on a stick. Snakes on a stick, Starfish on a stick. Grilled over charcoal and offered up as a late night snack. The cameras were busy capturing all these foods cast in the red glow of the lanterns that line the street.
Walking, looking, tasting, comparing, smelling, riding, thinking, laughing- a very good day. And then, back to the hostel, for some very well-deserved sleeping!