Alyce Nazario '12

Today we hit the ground running as we set off to tour Beijing right after our departure from an almost 12 hour overnight train ride. Refreshed and excited as ever, we walked through the Temple of Heaven. Staying true to its name, it was an absolutely beautiful place and we enjoyed looking at the architecture as well as trees that are over 400 years old. We stayed for  about an hour before moving on to the (no longer) Forbidden City.! Our tour guide Duncan told us that, with over 9000 rooms, if a newborn stayed in a different room every night he would be 27 by the time he stayed in all of the rooms. Now I can see why they call it a city. The last Emperor of China was driven out in 1911 but the Forbidden City wasn't open to the public until 1924.

We sampled some Beijing cuisine for lunch and tasted the difference between Beijing and Shanghai probably more than we could see it. As picky of an eater as I am, I loved it. That might be due to the fact that most American versions of Chinese food are based on the Beijing style. After lunch we traveled to the National Museum of China and Tiananmen Square. Both were big, beautiful, and full of security. It's amazing how many security checks we have to go through in China. After walking for hours and being stared at by the locals we headed back to one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever seen. The Shangri-La Kerry Centre Hotel provided us with much needed rest and made us feel like we were on top of the world.

Though we didn't want to leave our comfortable beds, we mustered up the strength to go back down to the lobby to go to dinner. This was no ordinary dinner; it was dinner and a show. By show I mean a myriad of performances that never ceased to amaze us. There was music, dancing, acrobatics, and magic. It was hard to concentrate on both the show and the amazing food in front of us that seemed never-ending. After dinner was a 2 hour window of free time that essentially was an unsuccessful search for Haagen-Dazs by me, Diku, and Meghan (insert sad face). Maybe next time!