The time difference between China and the East Coast is twelve hours. That makes it very easy to figure out what time it is at home. However it is crazy to fix your sleeping schedule. The consensus of the delegation was that everyone went to bed at 8:00 and woke up close to 2:00 am, unable to fall back asleep. I was not any different. I was having anxiety about the fact that we couldn't get the phone tree to work and Twitter was blocked by the government. In other words, we could not get word to the parents that we were safe and sound. I did eventually fall back asleep.
Breakfast was a buffet not unlike those we have had in the UK and Australia.
From there we headed to Tiananmen Square. It was extremely crowded. All the tour groups and tourists had these beautiful umbrellas to block the sun. Although it was hot and sunny the sky stays white from the smog. It is pretty strange looking. We walked around for a while and Kitty gave us some information about the area. Lots of Chinese people kept walking up to us asking to take their picture with us. They particularly liked Cheryl and me, I assume because we are so tall. I also noticed that they wanted to take photos with the black kids. We took lots of photos of the square and Chairman Mao's Picture. There were tons of vendors that circled us like vultures. Now, Kitty had told us not to buy from them because they were selling poor quality items aka: crap. So when they came over and begged, and shoved their crap in our faces, and poked us, and grabbed our arms we said, "no thank you". There were a few kids that fell into their trap despite what Kitty told them.
A couple boys bought fake Rolex watches that were way too big for them and didn't even work. Others gave their big bills expecting change and the vendors ran away with their money. One boy spent almost all the money he brought a wooden dragon. It really was a shame. What really blows my mind is that even after hearing how some of the kids got ripped off, others continued to buy crap from them.
We headed under the tunnel to the other side of the road and bought our tickets to the Forbidden City or the Palace Museum as it is called now. It was quite beautiful. Buildings had amazing detail from every roof shingle to door knob.
The bright red buildings with the gold roofs sparkled in the sun. It was quite hot but we continued to trek on through the Forbidden City. We got up to the main building and had a chance to see inside the Palace but right when we got up there the guards started yelling at the crowd and pushing us out of the area. It was chaos, we were trying to get down the stairs and other people were trying to get up. Everyone was pushing and shoving. I was trying to corral all the kids and make sure we didn't loose any. Kitty had gone ahead with most of the group and some of us got stuck behind the crowd. We had to run to catch up. We finally met up with them in one of the gardens. Kitty told us that they were probably closing it because some famous person or government official was probable coming to visit. She said when leaders from other countries come, that is the only time the really close it down like that. I guess we were unlucky to show up this day at this time. It wasn't all bad though, we didn't miss much.
When we were through the Forbidden City we were all majorly dehydrated and feeling light headed. We went to lunch and then headed to a type of trade school.
They welcomed us and showed us their different classrooms. We saw a language lab, a place where they learn to be tour guides, and a fancy tea serving room. They learn how to set the table both Chinese and Western style. Some of the students put on a beautiful tea ceremony for us. It was so calming and relaxing to watch. Jill commented that she felt like she was in a massage parlor. They wave and swoop their hands around and follow very specific steps about warming the glasses, making and serving the tea.
We got to try three different types of tea; Jasmine, Black Tea, and Black Dragon Tea. They were all very different. I didn't really like Jasmine Tea. It tasted like I was drinking a flower garden. After that we separated into two groups. My group went to a classroom that teaches us how to cook. We made Chinese dumplings. They showed us how to roll out the dough, fill and pinch it closed. I though I was doing a pretty well. To me, mine looked just like the example. But I was wrong. Whenever they would come over, they would say "no!" and take it out of my hand to fix it. It was pretty funny. We cooked and tasted them and they were actually pretty good. The other group got to make roses. I guess they were edible but they really looked like play dough. It was funny to see our kids interacting with the Chinese students. They were really laughing and enjoying each other.
Dinner was at the Hard Rock Cafe Beijing. We had cheese burgers and fries. As much as I have been really trying everything and using my chopsticks, I have to admit the western meal hit the spot.