I'm tempted to just stop this post here. What else needs to be said?

We were supposed to start class today.  At the last minute though, our administrators realized that sending us to the forbidden city on a Saturday would be an absolutely terrible idea because of how crowded it gets.

It was, of course, still pretty packed. We were able to navigate only after lots of yelling and a little bit of aggression.  Overall though, considering that there were 50 of us, we did a pretty good job getting everyone through the whole tour. We only lost one guy, who unfortunately  had neither a cell phone nor any command whatsoever of the Chinese language. Cab drivers wouldn’t take him for some reason, so the kid literally just rode around on random buses for two hours saying “Tsinghua” a lot, and somehow actually made it home.

Relatedly, I am quickly becoming convinced that everyone in this program is a total badass.

Anyway, the whole trip was pretty awesome. We toured all the way from Zedong’s ever-so-phallic MAOsoleum into the forbidden city (a complex of 9,999 rooms that housed all the Ming and Qing emperors and their concubines and eunuchs) and out the other side. We saw the throne room, dozens of imperial art and gifts and sculptures, the garden, and a lot more. Of particular note was a really ornate, three-story opera house that you can see here (linked instead of embedded for fear of this post becoming too photo heavy). Basically the emperor sat across from this thing with his concubines or visiting officials or whatever and this whole building was used to put on massive cross-level plays.

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