Summer Palace in Beijing (July 31th, 2011, by Mady Bennink)

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This week we have been busy exploring ancient temples, trying new foods, and bargaining with locals in Beijing. The locals welcome us with open arms, and even ask for autographs. Today, July 31, we visited the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is the second home of Empress Ci Xi of China, also known as the dragon lady. Ci Xi gained power by any means. She chose her nephew, Guang Xu to succeed the throne, but he was merely her puppet Guang Xu attempted to make reform, but a military official told Ci Xi. Ci Xi was furious and locked Guang Xu in a room the size of a broom closet, keeping him prisoner there for nearly three years. The Summer Palace surrounds a man-made lake known as the Longevity Lake. After wandering around the artful corridors of the Summer Palace, we took the tour bus to Yuan Ming garden. Yuan Ming garden contains ruins of a palace larger than the Forbidden City, that was destroyed by the Anglo-French in 1860. Following our visit to Yuan Ming Garden, we visited one of the top two universities in Beijing, and possibly all of China, Pecking University. A lush campus with historically significant structures and devoted students, Pecking University deserves its current title. Pecking University is many Chinese students’ dream from the start, there were many families taking pictures of their small children and babies in front of the university. After a long day consisting of 32 C weather, we headed to Donglaishun to eat a delicious traditional Chinese meal, consisting of rice, soup made of pig blood, spicy chicken and various arrangements of vegetables. Back at the Inn, we conversed with the Chinese students in their native language, late into the night. Now I want to join them in playing cards, but do not fear, another post is near.