Disclaimer: These are people’s opinions, and we are not stating any of these opinions as facts.
For three days the WarRoy clan was in Beijing, China. We experienced so many new and exciting adventures that taught us so much about China’s fascinating history and culture. We went from well known places such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square; to places like the Emperors Summer Palace, Mao Zedong’s tomb, the Ming Tombs, Buddhist temples, and ancient places of worship. We were extremely fortunate to have such a knowledgeable tour guide who took us all over Beijing and shared with us her extensive knowledge of Chinese history and culture. Lena answered every single question we asked her in incredible detail and depth. She taught us how to select the best dishes at restaurants and she got to know us well by laughing along with our family’s jokes, telling us about herself when she was growing up, and about her life currently. It was evident that Lena really loves her country as she humbly shared parts of her own story with us. I think I can safely say that our experience in China would not be the same if it wasn’t for Lena. We loved getting to know her, and it was so special to build a relationship with someone who may come from a completely different walk of life then we do.
Here is each person in our family’s biggest take away from China:
Luke: “I was surprised how Emperors were buried with live (human) sacrifices. And sometimes it was an honor for them to be buried alive with the Emperor.”
Jacob: “They really liked communism, and Mao was one of the people who started it in china, but they’re mainly capitalistic, *even though* they still view Mao as amazing and they still view themselves as communists.”
Hannah: I was fascinated with how revered and idolized Mao Zedong was, and the similarities between the Mayan culture/architecture and the ancient Chinese culture/architecture. Last year I visited Chichen-Itza, (near Cancun, Mexico) and our guide told us about a theory that some Mayan people came from Asia. He told us to look closely at his face and to notice that it looks slightly Asian. In the very middle of the Chichen-Itza pyramid is a red jaguar with jade eyes. Our guide told us that Jade was not found in that area of South America, but it was commonly used by the Chines, and people of Asian cultures. The Mayan people loved to play with echoes, and I learned in china, that the Chinese people did too. The way that the stairs formed to the heaven, how they worshiped very similar gods, for very similar reasons, and the basic architecture of the temples made me constantly think about how similar these two cultures were.
As Luke talked about; the Emperor was buried with a human sacrifice, and that human sacrifices were not a peasant, or a criminal, or someone of little importance. Usually the sacrifice was a person of high importance, because it was an honor for them to be buried alive with the Emperor. In the Mayan culture they would sacrifice a young beautiful girl to the heavens not a criminal, or sick person. After visiting China and learning about ancient Chinese cultures I realized how similar the Mayan and Chinese rituals, buildings, and ways of life were, even though the two cultures were on completely opposite sides of the world.
Juliette: “For a really crowded city, it felt really empty. I thought it was interesting how they are trying really hard to be more sustainable. In some of the back streets where the buildings were really run down, the cars were really nice. I was enthralled with Empress Cixi. Love her. She was crazy!”
Justine: “They don’t have Google, Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. You can’t talk about politics in public. A policeman might come over to you and ask you to stop talking about politics. The food was amazing. I wasn’t expecting that.”
Fabienne: “ The Chinese people came across as very reserved, quiet and stoic. They came to life when they were gathered in communal areas. I enjoyed discovering how much the Chinese people love spending time together in large public spaces, like playing card games in the local parks. We learned a lot from our guide about the one child policy, which started in 1980, and the detrimental affects that it had on women and families because of the way the government enforced this policy. In 2011 the policy was changed to a two child policy, but that didn’t actually change anything in terms of population growth. Our guide pointed out that she was born under the one child policy, and her parents paid a fine for her sister to be born. Our guide jokingly explained how the single child generation had grown to be more selfish then previous generations because all of the parents and grandparent's attention was focused on the one child. The one child generation was intended to slow down the rapidly growing population which was a result of Mao’s desire to increase the Chinese population. He strongly believed in the ideology that a nation's strength comes from its large population and incited the moto "more people more power". I left this country grateful to have discovered very hard working and kind people."
Brad: “China calls themselves communist, but they are less socialistic then the United States. I was surprised how much english there was on signs, and how westernized they have become.”
Overall, we had an amazing three days in China, jam-packed with touring some of Beijing's historical sites. We are so grateful for our tour guide who made our experience in China truly unique and unforgettable!