2015 Beijing Day 4: Lama Temple, Confucious, Markets, Hutongs, Movie Night!

Day 4 – “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

After breakfast, we visited the Yonghe Temple (“Lama Temple”), a monastery for Tibetan Buddhism. As we strolled the grounds with our knowledgeable Wild China guides, we noticed the vivid colors on the ornately painted details of each main hall, the peaceful courtyards with budding trees, and the scent of sandalwood incense in the air. The students’ favorite attraction was the amazing 26m tall statue of Buddha, carved from a single piece of white sandalwood! From there we walked to the Temple of Confucius, with its gnarled and twisting cypress trees. In order to compete in a game of Two Truths and One Lie, each small group became an expert on one section of the compound. Here we saw the halls where Confucian scholars studied, and the giant stone tablets carved with the names of those who passed the Imperial Exam
After lunch, our buses took us to a local market. Each small group was tasked with purchasing produce and tea to bring to the Hutong families that we would be visiting later today. The students used their Mandarin and respectful bargaining skills to collect apples, garlic, corn, spring onions, Chinese figs, and lotus seeds. They all did a fantastic job, and we had a great time learning more about Chinese culture.
Our next adventure was to the lovely Houhai lake area for fun pedicab rides through the Hutongs (alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences). We stopped at a siheyuan to participate in activities taught by the residents. We played shuttlecock, and learned the Chinese art of paper cutting, mask painting, calligraphy, and dough sculptures.
We enjoyed a special pizza dinner at Kro’s Nest and then headed back to the hotel. Finally, back at the hotel, we grabbed our pillows and slippers to enjoy a “Karate Kid” movie night amongst friends, old and new. Tai Tam dyad has grown closer over the few days we’ve been together in Beijing; we’re lucky to have such a kind, clever, and especially FUN group of students!

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