Prior to studying in Beijing I knew that China had a lot to offer culturally. However familiar names like The Great Wall and The Summer Palace merely seemed like historic sites turned tourist destinations. I wouldn’t know the impact they would have on me until I finally got the chance to visit them myself.
Centuries ago the challenge of the Chinese people was building a wall to keep their land and people safe; today, it is the challenge for each individual to make the trek across the wall to reach their personal goals. For me I never thought that hiking up a slippery steep wall in the middle of a Chinese snow storm but I couldn’t be happier that I did. The Great Wall of China is one of the seven wonders of the world and each brick is filled a rich history. Another thing I found really cool was the military personnel and their uniforms/marching. In the United States it is rare that you see the military marching unless you are at the Arlington National Cemetery (I have never been), so for me it was very cool to see them. I noticed that their uniform is also very popular in gift shops, seeing people around with the military hats on was very interesting because in a country that Americans see as “controlled” but I learned that they enjoy things the same as we do in the US.
As with The Great Wall, The Summer Palace offered a similar cultural excursion. The hundreds of acres were transformed into a dreamlike world for the royal family during their summer vacation. One aspect that really intrigued me was the attention to detail on every inch of the buildings. You can tell today, hundreds of years later that the builders had a vision beyond their years as well as the talent to build without the advantage of the sophisticated technology we have today.
The foundations of China have built a rich cultural history that has stayed intact throughout the years and are here today for us to learn and enjoy.