June 5th, Beijing, day 18
We tried to have breakfast at 7:00 this morning, a bit earlier then some of the other mornings. Naturally this did not go exactly as planned, which was understandable. The nature of this trip is for things to not go as planned. We finally had breakfast around 7:15, most of us were frantically stuffing our faces so that we could leave on time. We managed to, but we almost left Dr. Kotter and Ben behind in the process. Our destination this morning was one of the orphanages. This particular orphanage is the “Cadillac” of orphanages. It is well run, has clean groups and ensures that all of the kids are well taken care of. Taking good care of the kids is of particular interest of the orphanage because all of the kids who come to it have some sort of medical condition. We played with the kids for a few hours and had a lot of fun doing so.
Afterword, we had lunch at a familiar place. There is a restaurant not too far from our hotel which we had dinner at the first night. Mostly what we have ordered from this place was noodles, however, their menu is actually quite extensive. After lunch we went to the Forbidden Palace, Tianamen Square and attempted to make it to the Summer Palace in time to tour it. The Forbidden Palace was much larger then I had expected it to be. It had large courtyards, massive walls and large buildings. Truth be told. Much of the architecture look quite repetitive, but it was impressive nonetheless. The garden at the end of the palace was beautiful. I have several pictures of the garden that I believe will represent it well. The square, much like the Forbidden Palace, was larger than expected. By comparison, I would say that it is about 2-3 times larger than Red Square in Russia.
We finished the day with a banquet of a dish whose name has been changed and modified for years. I like to call it Beijing Duck, but it is more often referred to as Peking Duck. The process of making this dish is quite extensive, but it is truly worth all the preparation. From what I understand the first step is to blow hot air under the sick of the duck. This allows the skin to crisp while cooking the duck and maintaining the moisture on the inside. The duck is then cut into smaller pieces and served with steamed pancakes, spring onions and a sweet bean sauce. The combination is divine. Without a doubt in my mind, it is the best food I have ever had. If there was some way that I could learn how to make it, it would be the only thing I eat for the rest of my life.