Today was another full day. We had more training in the morning and in the afternoon went out to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. My historical knowledge in these areas isn't the greatest, but I'll give the brief version of why these two places are important. The Forbidden City is where the Emperors lived and ruled from. It was an enclosed city full of concubines and power. The Emperors were not allowed to leave the City and they often ruled with an iron fist. The Forbidden City is HUGE. We had two hours to walk around and I used every minute of that time. We walked throughout the whole complex, which ended into Tiananmen Square. It is the largest square in the world, apparently three times as big as the Red Square in Moscow. It was unreal how large it was and how many people were there. Sadly, we couldn't see Mao in his mausoleum because it is only open during the morning. After spending the majority of the afternoon in these two famous places, we went into a pedestrian zone with lots of great shopping and food. There was a foreign bookstore and I bought 7 soft cover books (Rushdie, Queen Noor, The Federalist Papers, Dumas, Hardy, Sinclair, and Bono) for like $40; I'm so excited to have good reading material for the upcoming weeks and months. I think one of my favorite things in China will be eating from the street vendors. I had another great dinner off the street tonight, complete with an ice cream bar, what more could I want in life right now? (Of course, other than my teaching assignment...)
While I'm on the topic, our group leaves Beijing tomorrow afternoon to fly to Wuxi, which is maybe two hours outside of Shanghai. Tomorrow night I will get settled into my new apartment and then Saturday will be spent getting acclimated to the city and hopefully doing some shopping to make the apartment livable. We still don't know if there is an International Fellowship in Wuxi, so our options for church on Sunday may be limited. There are so many pieces of this giant puzzle that still have to come together that worrying about the details is impossible anymore. This coming transition is huge, but I welcome the chance to place roots yet again, even if only for ten months. I just started reading Eugene Peterson's X Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A conversation in spiritual theology and he writes, "J is working at the center. J is far more active than any one of us; it is J who provides the energy" (p. 19). What encouragement!
This picture is actually taken from a park that overlooks the Forbidden City. The haze/pollution is normal for Beijing and most bigger Chinese cities.
The beautiful architecture of the outside walls of the Forbidden City.
Yet another interesting translation (these are all real signs!)
The heads of the dragons spew water when it rains (this place was made famous to me by a wonderful movie called Big Bird in China).
Only of a handful of the 1.something billion people that make up China (this is taken from outside of the Forbidden City looking over towards Tiananmen).
The haze makes the sun look like the moon.
China is so unbelievably proud to be hosting the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. There are signs everywhere with the mascots and the official sponsors for the Games. Only 722 more days until the opening ceremonies!
This is in Tiananmen Square looking back towards the huge picture of Mao and the Forbidden City.
A smattering of bikes waiting at the busy intersection between Tiananmen and the Forbidden City. Many people do use bikes as their primary mode of transportation.
A street vendor selling octopus legs (left corner) and crabs/crab legs (right corner) to fry for dinner. I had a wonderful bowl of noodles from a nearby vendor.
Good night from Beijing!
PS-It could be a while before I have time/an internet connection to be able to post again. Just FYI!