The Center of the Middle

I found out that Chinese people do not call their country “China.”  This was a shock to me! In fact, their name for their own country is Zhong Guo.  This sounds nothing like “China.”  Long ago, Westerners named them after the nice porcelain goods that they got from Chinese traders, but China named itself Zhong Guo, which means “Middle Kingdom.”  For hundreds of years, Chinese people have thought about themselves as the center of the world.

Today, we visited the Forbidden City, which is the center of Beijing, the capital of China.  It’s where many emperors used to live along with their many servants and other staff.  It’s huge.  We walked around for hours and only saw a small piece of the massive complex.  At the front entrance, the Gate of Heavenly Peace overlooks Tiananmen Square, a place full of its own history.

I might not have mentioned it, but I am having such an amazing time so far! I’ve only been here a week and a half, but I am learning so much and really enjoying our little community.  The students and staff are fabulous, and our days are packed with adventure.  Here’s a little taste of some of the silly side of the past 24 hours:

The required jumping photo from our photo scavenger hunt this morning in Qianmen.

A new friend that I made in the hotel lobby:

Here’s a shot from a store window, featuring Obama in Superman underwear and Chairman Mao, in doll form.

Chinese BBQ! We’ve been trying lots of new foods, from lamb (pictured here) to Peking Duck tonight.


Categories: China

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10 replies »

  1. Looks like fun Ms. Krakauer!!

    I remember when I went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square with my family. It was fun!! And you’re right, it IS big! What else did you learn about China’s history?
    I thought the video of your new friend was really cute!! He seemed thoroughly interested in the cool things your computer did!! The words he said at the beginning were, “My tooth fell.”
    I also thought the photos of the dolls and the jumping students were cool, and funny!! How was the scavenger hunt?
    And for the new food you tried, how did you like the Chinese BBQ and the Peking Duck? Were they good?
    I envy how your days are filled with adventure. Not everyone has excitement in their lives everyday. You’re really lucky!!

    Here’s a recommendation to where you can go next:
    “Yi2 He2 Yuan2” or “Summer Palace”
    It was the place where the emperor/emperors went for their summer going, or their summer vacation. I’ve went there with my family 3 times; it was fun!!!!

    • The photo hunt was really fun. It’s a great way to practice team work. And I really enjoy trying lots of new foods here. The duck was great. We’ll definitely visit the Summer Palace. I forget when, but I will keep you posted!

  2. I had no idea that they call there country something else! I did know that Indian people call India something else though.

  3. This is really cool! it shows how America effects other places… like China! Have you seen ways America effects china? I would like to know about some of their culture too, like the dragon. What is it like to try new foods and live in a different environment? How did food differ in different places?Was i that before we had the technology to travel over seas, the continents were totally out-of-touch. Therefore their foods just never got known to other people? What is your favorite Chinese food and what is the strangest thing you have seen? Also, i have heard that China is having some serious air pollution problems. Have you experienced that. some people claim it feels hard to breath in the city because the air is so heavily filled with smog. What was it like to be a the school for adults, was it different than being with us kids? Also, tell the silly boy i said hello. 🙂

  4. I liked how the little green model of a bird kept popping up in random pictures!
    Also “Pass the Peanut” looks like fun!
    – Matthew

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