Tiananmen Square and Ms. Oliver’s birthday!
We had a long and busy day in Beijing, highlighted by Tiananmen Square and Ms. Oliver’s birthday!
Today started early, with another 7am optional Sunrise Session with Mister Penley. A few of us walked around the Hutong (old, traditional neighborhoods with tiny, winding streets and alleys) near the hotel where we saw the morning hustle and bustle of parents and kids traveling on scooters to school, and where we watched the action at the morning vegetable and meat market. We ate the Chinese version of fried dough… deliciously light with a slightly crispy crust with sesame seeds and sugar. Here is the early-morning group with our new favorite baker friend!
Our whole gang rendezvoused for a full breakfast at the hotel, and after a short walk from the hotel we entered the largest public gathering area in the world, Tiananmen Square. Here are Victor and Luke celebrating their Chinese roots.
The Gould kids are friendly, welcoming, and welcomed wherever they go. They were befriended by a Tai Chi group, and another group of tourists posed them all for a picture. Bravo to Annelise, Elise, Hayli, Niles, and Nate for spreading their good cheer and goodwill!
Modern Chinese history was made in Tiananmen Square several times, including Mao’s speech declaring China’s modernization. This is also where we found the building where Mao still lies in state.
Here is the Kunming group in Tiananmen Square
And the Xi’an group
Then it was a hop, skip, and a jump before we climbed to the top of the hilly and peaceful Jing Shan Park where Nate, Artun, Matt, and Schuyler dressed in period costumes for a picture, with The Forbidden City in the background.
George and Ellie looking north from Jing Shan Park
Then half of us went to the Imperial College in the Temple of Confucius (which some of us thought was a Confucing name, but maybe that’s the jetlag), and half of us went to the Bhuddist Temple, Yong He Gong. Here are George, John, and Joonho burning incense at Yong He Gong.
Our students have a substantial journaling assignment to complete during our visit. Most of them will write about 50 pages responding to prompts from their English and History teachers. They will use the thinking and writing in their journals for projects due in April. Here are Annelise and Joanna hard at work…
More journaling by Kim, Alex, and Alice
Luke, Matt, Brandon, Ankey, Victoria, Grace, Nick, Ella, Alicia, and Colby hard at work. OK, so mostly Luke and Colby are walking around in the picture, but I promise they settled in for some good writing later.
Hayli and Ellie
Mr. Penley, Matt, Luke
Here’s an American from the Starbucks cafe who is distraught about the confusing evacuation instructions in Nanlouguxiang alley. Luckily, we were equally confused about why anyone would want to evacuate this 21st-century Beijing hipster heaven of shops, cafes, and restaurants, so we calmed our hysteria and continued our stroll.
After a short walk, we paused beside a beautiful lake at sunset just before dinner.
Dinner featured meat on sticks! Here is Luke winning a tasty game of Frogger. Matt set a record by creating a bonfire pile of 29 empty skewers. He was still fine two hours later. Tune in tomorrow for an update.
Chris, ironically scoffs at the notion that “you are what you eat,” finishing off a skewer of chicken hearts which tasted like, ummm… chicken.
After another short walk, and then a subway ride that would have covered several time zones if China had more than one, we were back to the hotel lobby for Ms. Oliver’s birthday extravaganza of egg custard tarts (a Beijing birthday tradition dating from the Hen Dynasty) and our fave hit drink of the trip: fresh water in crinkly plastic bottles. It was a raucous and joyful celebration. Photos are not available, — and neither are any more tarts — but perhaps you’ll see it all on CNN.
Favorite quotation, at 3:30 on a sunny afternoon: “Mr. Riley, is it AM or PM?”
The children are now nestled all snug in their beds, and man are we tired. See you tomorrow, whenever that is.