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Big Ole Adventures: China

Four years ago, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to China with my high school Chinese class. And now, this coming interim, I will be traveling to not only China, but also to Japan and Hong Kong. While I can’t speak too much about Japan or Hong Kong, I can definitely talk about China. When most people think about China, what usually comes to mind is the Great Wall, Chairman Mao, and population size. However, China is so much more! Along with its rich cultural, social, and political history, China is also home to some of the most beautiful places in the world. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite things I saw during my trip to China. 

Summer Palace, Beijing (頤和園, 北京)

This was one of my favorite locations! Located outside of downtown Beijing, the Summer Palace overlooks Kunming Lake and one has to take a boat across the lake to see the Palace. Along the edges of the water is a covered pathway with these beautifully decorated arches. Besides walking around the lake, visitors can also see a boat made entirely of marble. One of the many reasons I loved the Summer Palace is that it gives visitors a peak of life outside the major urban areas.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing (天安门广场, 北京)

While this image is a little old, in my opinion, nothing much has really changed. Even though Tiananmen Square may not seem as exciting as China’s other attractions, for history buffs like me, the Square is pretty exciting. Tiananmen Square is the location of many important protests such as those during the May Fourth Movement in 1919, the protests of 1976 following the death of prominent Chinese politician Zhou Enlai, and, most famously, the protests of 1989 in response to the death of Hu Yaobang that were put down with military force. 

The Forbidden City (紫禁城, 北京)

When you’re in the Forbidden City, it feels like you have gone back in time a couple of centuries. In olden times, the emperors of China lived in this lavish and large imperial complex. I chose this photo because it shows off the sheer size of this palace. When I went, there were tourists everywhere. However, because the place is so big, it never felt like there were too many people. Along with smaller buildings inside, the Forbidden City also has a beautiful garden in the back. If you ever go to China, the Forbidden City is a must see! 

The Great Wall (长城)

Last, but definitely not least, the Great Wall of China is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. During my trip, we used the Badaling entrance and hiked for about 2 hours. When I went, it was a little grey out, but there was not too much air pollution, something I wish I could say about Beijing. Something I never really realized was that the Great Wall is super steep. Honestly, it was like walking up the Buntrock steps, except each step is uneven and possibly 2 feet high. However, hiking the Wall was one of my favorite memories from my trip. Nothing was more rewarding then reaching a peak and looking out. 

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Image sources: Thumbnail from gmshtwjl via pixabay, Summer Palace from wvivw via pixabay, Tiananmen Square by Derzsi Elekes Andor, Forbidden City by Tojan76, Great Wall by Jakub Halun

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Gray Reynolds

St Olaf '18

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