This might be one of the craziest cities I have ever visited... mostly in a good way. The amount of people, smells, tradition, and traffic is beyond anyone's expectations. We landed on Wednesday afternoon on a bumpy flight from Seoul and soon after experienced the traffic congestion to the hotel. After arriving and checking in we traveled to a bizarre street market called the Silk Market. We used the subway to get there and that alone was an experience... a very crowded experience. We had to sandwich ourselves into the subway car along with the other 100 people that wanted to do so.
Once we arrived at the market we traveled through the narrow path of the most outrageous smells in one area. Whiffs of braised octopus, noodles, fried scorpions, bats on a stick, steamed dumplings, and the smell of garbage all wafts through the market. To pick out one singular smell is impossible. The scariest food choice at the market had to have been the fried scorpions on a stick. Don't worry though, you won't get just one scorpion, you get 3 on a stick. One of our brave group members tried one! Also in the deep fried selection
were deep fried seahorse, snakes, bats, and an assortment of bugs that did not look too appetizing. As you're sifting through the thousands of people eating "who knows what" on a stick you can't help but lose your appetite a little bit. Luckily there are also consumer goods that are scattered alongside the market, so our group recovered by walking through the shops. At that point we were exhausted so we headed back to the hotel.
Thursday morning we scheduled a group tour to Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing. The tour lasted all morning, but one could literally stay on the ancient grounds for an entire day. The expanse of the emperor's palace was beyond impressive, and the buildings were so beautifully detailed with colors, wood carvings, stone sculptures, and history. It was a special experience just being on the grounds themselves. You could feel the hundreds of years of history under your feet, and couldn't help imagine what the place could feel like during one of the 24 emperor's reigns. There are 999 rooms for one emperor's family!
Our project continues to develop as we interviewed a decorated professor at Peking
University (Beijing University). His insight was useful and helpful, but the highlight of our trip to the campus was a wonderfully sweet graduate student, Harry. His hospitality through translating, and showing us around campus made us adore him. He will be coming to the US and attending Colombia Law this Fall. Columbia is lucky to get him!
Dinner that night was a feast of delicious traditional Chinese dishes with a few of my group members. Pan fried duck in onions, chili, and peppers, grilled catfish covered with beans, corns, and vegetables, soy fried rice, garlic chili long beans, and more rice. The food was so delicious and so inexpensive. A definite comeback spot!
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