We woke up today, had breakfast at the hotel and immediately headed towards the Great Wall to visit the Mutianyu section. On the bus ride to the wall, our local guide helped explain much of the Great Wall’s history and the various restorations of the section we were to visit. We arrived at the base of Mutianyu, and after a steep climb up to the wall, we headed to the top of the 9th tower to rest and soak in the view, where guards used to gather for meals after their watches and sought shelter during rain and snow.
We then walked over to the next tower, where we all rode the Toboggan down to the bottom. Students had free time to buy souvenirs and other items at the shops lining the path back down to the bus, and a lot were able to test out their Chinese and bargaining skills to haggle for the best price they could with each vendor. Lunch was at a famous local restaurant near the wall that served some great local specialties including a wild mushroom dish from the nearby mountains and a cornmeal cake stuffed with a mix of vegetables. The group continued its insatiable appetite, polishing off almost every dish and leaving practically nothing behind. Everyone has done their best to be as open as possible to trying different cuisine, and judging by the clean plates they seem to have been enjoying it!
After lunch we drove back into Beijing to the 798/Dashanzi district, which was formerly a military production factory that has recently been converted into Beijing’s most vibrant area for contemporary art. It houses numerous art galleries and has become a popular destination for locals and others looking to gain a better understanding of Beijing’s rapidly evolving art scene. Coincidentally, in our free time walking around two independent groups of students were both interviewed by China’s CCTV about who they were and their experiences so far in China. We’ll have to look out for Collegiate on Chinese TV this week!
From 798, we drove south to Chaoyang district to see an Acrobatics show. Needless to say there were some pretty awesome students, including an incredible balancing act and six motorcycles weaving precariously inside a small metal sphere! Dinner was on the famous Guijie, which houses some of the best restaurants in Beijing. We were treated to another Peking Duck (no complaints here) and a variety of other family style dishes. We returned to the hotel full and ready for another packed day tomorrow, where we will be visiting the Temple of Heaven, the Lama Temple, as well as seeing the old-style Hutong courtyards and alleyways where the flavor of Old Beijing is still alive and well.