Our first stop today was the West Lake. Truthfully I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. Back in Chicago, I go to the lake almost every day but this is incomparable. It’s so colorful not only with flowers but also with people. Everyone we passed waved and smiled. At the West Lake there is a bridge named the Broken Bridge. It was given this name because in the winter, half of it gets covered in snow and half doesn’t. The second stop on today’s adventure was to the house of a man who was once the richest man in China. The man’s name was Hu. He had 9 wives. Hu was a banker who used his money to suppress the peasants from the Taiping rebellion. For helping in the Taiping rebellion, Hu was gifted a red hat and he was also called the ‘red top merchant.’ He was gifted this because a red hat symbolizes high power. Hu went bankrupt before he died because he bet all of his money on silk production. There is a room in Hu’s house that has the saying “man of 100 lion heads”.
After we visited Hu’s home, we then went to a traditional Chinese pharmacy and saw many herbs that Chinese people use to cure illness. Most older Chinese people use these herbs while younger people tend to use more western methods/cures.
While there, we saw one of the cures that is very rare which is a fungus of caterpillar. So after we left the Chinese pharmacy we went to lunch. They served us spinach, pork, rice, potatoes, shrimp with vegetables and beef with onions. The food was very good, especially the potatoes.
After lunch, we went to visit the Six Harmonies Pagoda. The Six Harmonies Pagoda is 7 stories high with 350 stairs climbing up to the top of the 7th story to look over the stairs at the entrance and also, you are able to see the beautiful view of the buildings past the river. It was such a beautiful view to be at the top of the Pagoda. Shortly after we left the Six Harmonies Pagoda, we went to the Hill flying from Afar and the Lingyin Temple which was a Buddhist temple. Inside of the Buddhist temple, we were able to see the different Buddhas which serve a different purpose for the people such as health. Because Buddha is such a respected figure in their religion, we weren’t able to take pictures inside of the temple in respect of their religion. After we left the Lingyin temple, we went back to the hotel, ate dinner and had a friendly competition between the three chaperone groups playing charades.
Today, like all other days, has been a new learning experience. But today, unlike other days, myself and the other ambassadors have seen the beautiful scenery of China that cannot be comprehended through pictures. China has so much more to offer than a “Made in China” label. It has rich artifacts and unimaginable sites to see. While being in China we are able to be immersed in the culture as well as learn different information that helped shaped and make China what it is today.