Location: Beijing

 Today is the last full day of our trip to China, and three weeks have passed by like a blink of an eye. We woke up on the train back to Beijing, arriving at the station at 8:20 in the morning. We had forgotten our cooler (our breakfast) at the hotel yesterday, so that was quite the experience (Don’t worry because we all brought some food on the train that we ate for breakfast). We then continued to walk through the station and across the street to the bus parked on the side of the street covered by the branches of 2 trees. We drove to the summer palace and soon arrived at around 10:00 at a sidewalk being drenched in the rain. We walked towards the entrance of the palace until we were very intrigued about this specific street food stand that was along the sidewalk. Now, this wasn’t your occasional street food; it offered spiders, scorpions, snakes, centipedes, sea horses, etc. We didn’t get anything from here and walked towards the entrance of the palace and walked through the admissions gate. Nothing very special happened until we arrived at a bridge of a small pond; this is where today’s swamp jokes started to come into fruition. After a plethora of “that,” we split into two groups: those that wanted to climb to the top of the summer palace and those that didn’t (they stayed at the bottom and enjoyed the view of the lake and the ships). For the people that went to the top of Longevity Hill, we saw temples and relics of the Qing dynasty and the Buddha and Bodhisattva statues. We saw the lake from the top of the palace, and it was quite the sight. We descended from the hill and walked back to the east gate of the Summer Palace.

We departed from the palace at around 11:45 and walked back to that weird street food stand that I mentioned earlier and got a snack there. Some of us were mortified, some thought it was delicious and some just watched. Interesting enough as it was to watch, I personally would not have tried it. We then got in the tan van and departed to the Pearl Market. Pearl Market was an interesting market that was placed in a five-story building (and one underground food court); it was like a street market … but in a building. We had lunch at the food court at around 1:00 and split into two groups. One group got dumplings and won tons; the other group got noodles (I believe).

After lunch, everything was chaos, some people went on different floors to get their stuff, bargaining was happening everywhere, and money was being spent. Everyone bought something at Pearl market; some got Gucci bags, some got souvenirs, some got gifts, some candy, etc. We gathered again at 4:00 and got in the van at around 4:15. From there, we departed to the “Sky House Business Hotel”; where we arrived at around 5:30. We had 45 minutes to shower, finish our forms, relax, or kill cockroaches until we departed for dinner at 6:15. Everyone came dressing very nice, and everyone looked very stunning tonight. We took our family photo at the front of the hotel and called it a wrap. We got in the van, and we went to the first place we had our lunch (the lunch after the Great Wall); this made a full circle of our trip.

The bus ride was wild; expressions were given, old jokes brought up again, reminiscing what happened in the last 3 weeks, etc. The dinner was also very wacky, there was a Chinese trivia (Grace won the Peppa pig bag), there were weird impressions going on (Lucy was doing a killer Micky Mouse “Oh Boy!”), and some other weird talents that were being shown. We came back to the hotel at around 8:45 and had our last forum. Everyone was getting emotional and reminding ourselves of our time together, and the story that Evan shared to us all. From the time that I am writing, there are less than 24 hours left on this trip, and I myself am sad to leave everyone. The memories that I had on this trip is a very unique one and simply unforgettable. Some would say that friends come and go, and as much as that is the case, these other 16 significant individuals are unique in both their personalities and their actions, making them quite the unforgettable bunch. It is very sad to see everyone depart tomorrow morning, but the memories we share are what holds us together, no matter where we end up. To those that are reading from this trip: “I love you all, and you guys are irreplaceable friends.”