Our final day in Beijing is now coming to a close, and new adventures in the south await. This was a perfect way to end our days of relaxation in Beijing, and I am confident that all have recovered in the nick of time from jet lag to be exhausted once again by the soreness from our Great Wall adventure yesterday.
We began the day in the Olympic Village, which by far drew the most excitement out of our students, being able to see the Water Cube and other stadiums used in the 2008 Summer Olympic games. It was somewhat surreal to experience the Olympic Village, remembering the many triumphs and defeats experienced therein by athletes from all over the world. The captain of the Middleburg Academy swim team, Sarah Nickles was most taken, as she recalled Michael Phelps’ 8 gold victories, as her inspiration to swim.
Another group of our students led by Grayson Cook and Chris Nickles, took a Tai Chi class with a woman in the center of the Olympic village, and as Chris later stated “I really felt like I was able to conjure the fire within”. (More details to follow on these student’s “existential experience”, as well as video footage evidence).
From the Olympic Village we rounded out our exploration of the Chinese religious tradition by visiting the Taoist “Temple of the Heavens” where the emperor traditionally went twice a year to pray for blessings and ask for a good harvest. Drastically different than the Lao Ma temple (the Buddhist temple) we visited on our first full day in Beijing, it was much more plain, clearly for ritual purpose (for the emperors), being that all attendees were tourists and no one was there practicing the Taoist faith.
(Yes, the sign in the bottom left of the picture says something along the lines of “Don’t sit in the Olympic Rings….oops)
We enjoyed a dumpling lunch, which as our tour guide Christina explained, was a treat and a particularly Beijing experience. As the students are growing more and more confident with the food, we had many a laugh watching people experiment and adapt to the local cuisine. The day ended in a local Chinese market where our guide taught the students the art of bartering. Fun was had by all and a few imitation Gucci, Luis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Burberry found there way into our American luggage. Finishing the afternoon with a nice Starbucks pit stop (Green tea latte anyone?) , we were back to the hotel for the evening.