Let me begin this entry by stating that I have just returned from a special banquet prepared for us by our hosts. At this dinner we drank Er Guo Tou, a Chinese "wine" that is 48% liquor. Each time we were toasted by the host, we raised our glasses and said "Gan Bei," or bottoms up. I did this 5 times during the course of the evening, so if this entry is a tad bit incoherent, you will know why. (I am not a drinker, so perhaps you can imagine how I'm feeling!)
We began our day at Beijing Normal University with a question and answer session on their International Education program and then had a lecture on the Chinese educational system. This information was not new to me, since I researched the system of public education and presented it to our seminar group when we first began meeting. What struck me during the presentation is that the system in China currently educates the number of students equivalent to the entire population of the US. This is a figure so large that it is nearly incomprehensible. Once the lecture ended we had a very quick tour of the campus before leaving for lunch.
I should tell you that our trip here was planned by the China Association for International Friendly Contact. Our time is highly scheduled and carefully supervised. During several excursions we have been required to visit state- or government-run operations. Today our lunch was in a restaurant at a state-run cloisonne factory and gift shop. We did have the unique opportunity to see some pieces being made. Here are some pictures.
Once we had lunch and explored the store, we headed to the Ba Da Ling section of the Great Wall. This is the most popular section of the Great Wall, since it is only about 44 miles from Beijing. This section was built around 1505 and was restored in the 1950s and 1980s. How was it? Take a look and find out.
The last picture says a lot. It was rainy, gray, slippery, and in places, surprisingly crowded. What we could see was absolutely stunning, and even though we returned to the bus soaked, the walk on the Great Wall was incredible.
Okay, I'm off to bed. I wish I could write more, but the Er Guo Tou has kicked in and I need some rest. More tomorrow!