BRIGHT AND BRILLIANT BEIJING
(By Canh Thong in Laos to mam in VN, SonThai – Hoai Anh in Canada and others)
First Stop – “Tiananmien Square”
Our first stop was at the Tiananmien Square, the largest square in the world. It was quite cloudy and foggy that morning so it gave the square a rather mysterious look. The tour guide explained to us about the history of the square and that “Tiananmien” means “liberation” in Chinese.
After taking pictures and running around with people in the square, we headed to the Forbidden City which was inside the square. The queue was unbelievably long. There must’ve been hundreds and hundreds of people. We eventually got inside the Forbidden City. It was gigantic, at 900m long and 500m wide. The gates and walls were massive. The color red and yellow you can see everywhere since red meant power while yellow meant royalty. We didn’t get to go up the walls though but it was still very impressive. After 2 or 3 hours of exhaustion through crossing one end to another, we reached the royal garden (I think that’s what it was called). The security was really tight for some reason. While we were passing through, we decided to take a group picture with a gigantic banner that says “Kiettisack International School” but the police officers didn’t let us take the picture for some “unknown” reasons. It was just basically the garden at the other entrance of the Forbidden City. There is nothing really special about the garden except for its huge size to be in proportion with the Forbidden City itself. Afterwards, everybody was really hungry so we went to lunch.
First Meal in Beijing
The restaurant that we went to was quite close to the Forbidden City. It was only a 5 or 10 minute walk away from there. The restaurant looked quite nice, and not like one of those dumps on the street where you buy Pho or fried rice. It was full of lanterns and dragon-like decoration since it was going to be Chinese New Year soon. The food that they served us was alright, neither good nor bad. There was nothing really worth mentioning about the restaurant besides the fact that… it was our first meal there!
To the Gods at the Temple of Heaven
After the disappointing lunch (even though I was quite hungry), we headed to the Temple of Heaven, which was also a 10 minute walk from the restaurant. There was a bit of leftover snow inside the Temple so my friends and I were just fooling around and kept trying to throw snow at each other even though there was barely any. The temple wasn’t too impressive but it did have some favorable memories. We had a lot of fun fooling around with each other, running around and trying to disrupt other people’s pictures. At the center of the Temple, we took a group picture with everyone.
Thong, His Friends and Teacher Luk’s Exclusive Adventure
The reason this “adventure” is exclusive is because everyone else has already got back to the bus except for two of my friends, a few other students, Teacher Luk and I since we were trying to buy some souvenirs. In the beginning it was just James, Elizabeth and I who were buying for souvenirs. It took us a while because we obviously had to bargain I mean hey, it’s China, either bargain or run out of cash. After 5 minutes of bargaining the vender finally agrees to let us buy the souvenir at a lower price. We were happy but we should not have spoken so soon because… we were then lost.
We walked around looking for our allies but none were in sight. Lucky for us, we found Teacher Luk wandering around the place, he looked like he was lost too and indeed he was. So, we walked around with him in search for others and we did find a few (3 or 4) other students. Now that we’ve grouped up, we decided to search for the bus. On the way to the parking lot, we were followed by so many street venders it’s actually unbelievable. They would crowd upon us and annoy us until we have to stop walking to tell them no. Sadly, one of the merchants managed to seduce my teacher with their cheap products.
That was when the inevitable happened, bargaining war. They were arguing, walking away from each other, yelling, insulting…etc. That took much longer than expected, but in the end, Teacher Luk still got his just desert. Whilst all of this was happening, this random, creepy Chinese guy came out of nowhere and asked James (my friend) to buy a Rolex! I mean we know it’s fake but that wasn’t the weird part, the weird part was the Chinese guy, he was really creepy. But after all that, we got back to the bus save and sound except for the fact that everyone was mad at Teacher Luk since he was supposed to have more responsibility over the students, haha.
to be continued