We started our day today by visiting Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I had my picture taken next to the Dear Leader's portrait and was quickly ushered in through the Meridian Gate. The sites today we're simply stunning and I am exhausted from walking and seeing everything today. I did my best to remember everything I had read about the history behind the locations and sites but it there was so much to comprehend that I will have to rely on WIkipedia later to sort it all out. The sheer amount of history in at some of these places is overwhelming when you consider that the buildings have weathered almost 2000 years of continuous usage. When you compare that to the United States only being colonized 520 years ago, its shocking the amount of history this culture has; and thats just one building.
After leaving the North Gate of the Forbidden City we climbed the hill up to the temple at the top and were treated with a 360º view of the city of Beijing. The temple also housed a giant golden Buddha who was leaning forward slightly. It was very cool to see people climbing the hill to pay respect to the figure.
After we left the temple we went to have dinner at a local residents house. The food was delicious and quite filling. I don't know if its just because we're all Americans and they think we are all fat but the host kept putting more food down on the table as soon as we finished a single bowl! We were all stuffed and left feeling exhausted from eating so much. We then toured a traditional Chinese home complex that featured a shared courtyard. I bought a print there and will frame it as soon as I get home. Throughout this portion of the day we rode rickshaw taxis from place to place. Small two person carriage bicycles driven by locals. It cost us all all of $3 for 2 twenty minute rides!
After dinner we went to see a Chinese Acrobats show. I'll have video and pictures to upload later, but for now let me just say that they were incredible and the amount of time spent training for some of these feats must be immeasurable. We finished the night with supper and then a long stroll around Beijing on our own. I bought a small bottle of some kind of liqueur that I can only presume is rice based. We mingled in the hotels courtyard talking and chatting for about an hour before finally coming up to our rooms. Tomorrow is the Great Wall and I can't wait!