On Saturday , we were going to the Forbidden City. a palace complex in central Beijing. Containing more than 900 buildings, it was the home of emperors and their households from 1420 to 1912. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having the largest collection of preserved wooden structures in the world. It was given its name because ordinary people were forbidden to enter it. Today there can be up to 80,000 entrants each day.
The Dragon Boat Festival was taking place this weekend. Thousands would attend the Dragon Boat races, but as it was a public holiday, many locals went to the Forbidden City. Thousands of people were on the security line. I thought to myself that if I were to get separated from Arla, I would be serious trouble. Just then someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see a gentleman pointing to Arla, who was going in the other direction! I was saved by the kindness of a stranger!
I don’t think I mentioned that we had no breakfast, but Arla had brought along snacks. I am sure I didn’t mention that today was what we call a “3 H” day: hazy, hot and humid. When I was hungry and very warm, we made our way out of the complex. Arla said she was disappointed because she wanted to take us to a really nice restaurant for lunch, but she was not familiar with the restaurants in Beijing. We found a noodle restaurant that was just fine. I enjoyed spaghetti-like noodles in broth.
Lunch was followed by the drive back to Gu’an. When we were dropped off at our residence, Arla gave me a photo of her son as we hugged and said good-bye. Once inside, we were told that we and the interns would be having dinner with Mr. Xu, co-owner of the preschools, and in whose home we were house guests.
Mr. Xu took us to a restaurant that had a drawing of a donkey in its logo. We soon found out that donkey meat was a specialty of the restaurant. We did lots of chatting, thanks to Eric, our interpreter. I was surprised to see a photo of my sponsor, Oivia, Earthplace’s nursery school director, and me in Mr. Xu’s phone! It had been sent to him by Olivia.
Mr. Xu ordered many foods for us to try. They included donkey (of course!) has , fried fish, a vegetable salad, a spicy meat, soup, and a meat sandwich. We tried a non-alcoholic pineapple flavored “beer,” which was very tasty.
After dinner, we walked to a nearby park. The park was a beautiful play space, filled with children and their parents. We learned that it was designed and paid for by a multi-billionaire who has designed this city and 60 others in China. Mr. Xu told us we were all welcome to return.