After a week full of tours of Beijing, welcome parties at Wanxiang Polytechnic, and the first of our seminars, we finally had our first free day yesterday! (And our second free day today!)
Saturday started with our first discussion meeting, where we talked about two articles we had read. One on environmental history in China, and the other about environmental health in China and the progress (or… not progress?) being made to improve air and water quality.
After our meeting, Nicole Morris, Caleb Froidcoeur, and I decided to explore Xixi National Wetland Park. We had visited the park’s museum the day prior, but wanted to walk around the wetland itself. The Wetland Park is in fact right across the street from our hotel! Only about a five minute walk or so to get onto the trails!
The park has lots of ponds, creeks, and just general swampy areas. At one point on our walk, I saw one of my favorite birds, an egret! They are just the most beautiful, graceful birds I think I have ever seen, (besides flamingos of course)! We also came across a crab that had been stepped on, but it was still very… eerie looking… And of course we stumbled upon a pond with the most beautiful flowers, which I assume to have been lotus, growing. The Xixi wetlands is one of my new favorite places and I feel so privileged to be living so close to them for the next few weeks.
As far as cuisine goes, a few nights ago some of the student ambassadors from the university were kind enough to take us out to have hot pot. I tried all sorts of different foods, my favorite being the beef strips, shrimp balls, and lotus root. I also tried duck blood, which was very tasty, especially when cooked in the spicy “side” of the hot pot. I made my hot pot sauce with a bunch of garlic, red peppers, green onions, oyster sauce, vinegar, and soy sauce. Overall, it was an incredible meal, and one that I don’t think you could get in the States unless you perhaps visited a China Town in a large city.
Currently I am in my hotel room with the windows open and it is raining… so very relaxing… Maybe I will take a nap? <3