Most attractions closed for the day, we went to a nearby board game shop. Wanting to start simple, we picked out a deck of Uno cards, only to learn that our host student Yilong had never played. Excited to teach him, what was supposed to be a single, quick game somehow bled into a few hours, with each successive round more intense and competitive than the last. Done shouting for the day, we then decided to introduce Yilong to hispanic food, and headed over to Mojito, a Mexican restaurant, where we chowed down on much-missed enchiladas, nachos, and tacos.
In the morning the team gathered to attend a lecture on Internet of Things: Energy Efficient Data Analytics and Hardware Security, where the professor mentioned the technological application of the analytics in predicting seizures and similar health issues. Aside from the lecture, the team was given another day of rest. Wanting to fill our free time, the we went to the 798 Arts District once again, revisiting shops we adored and galleries that we couldn't see before. Returning back to the hotel, the team gathered once again for a movie night in the room.
This morning we woke to blue skies, ready to explore the Ming tombs. It was a long distance away, so to get there we first took the subway and then took a bus ride through the countryside, passing forested mountains and fields of fruit trees.
While we visited multiple temples, the highlight of the trip was definitely the underground palace at DingLing. As we descended, you could feel the moisture collecting in the air as the ground below got increasingly wet and droplets began to form on the ceiling above. When we reached the bottom, the royal family was housed in casket boxes lacquered bright red.Their immediate surroundings were littered with yuan of all denominations, presumably left by visitors wishing for good luck. Then at the neighboring Changeling site, we enjoyed pink peaches and plums freshly picked by local farmers and admired the dynastic exhibits, which were filled with ancient silk robes, blue porcelain, and gold crowns.
Setting out after lunch, the team and Li went to China's Science and Technology Center and explored the 5 floors of exhibits for several hours. Afterwards, we all met up with Liya and together went to a local restaurant in Wudaokou for dinner. Now full, there was just one question last to answer: what time was it? It was karaoke time. The highlight of the day was at the end of the night, when our host students took us to a karaoke spot so we could sing our hearts out and expose ourselves to popular chinese music, and them to popular american songs.
Today Yilong took us to see part of the local art scene in an outing which was divided into three separate but neighboring museums. The first in the series was a autobiographical exhibit detailing the rise of famous fashion designer Paul Smith, from his humble beginnings at his first shoebox-sized shop to the huge studio in which he designs colorful and striking fashion today. Our second stop was the Bologna Illustration exhibit, which highlights art from children's book illustrators. Lastly, we walked through the Van Cleef and Arpels showcase which catalogued the evolution of their jewelry throughout the 20th century, from the priceless, patinated pieces worn by british duchesses to sleek, whimsical mechanical automata.
Waking up to the sunrise, the team set out to Fragrant Hills Park for a day of hiking and adventuring the luscious and serene natural landscape. We took hours climbing up the mountain to take in our surroundings and enjoy our time in nature. Eating lunch at the top of the peak, we made our descent back down the mountain and settled back into the hotel and were left to get dinner on our own accord.
Sore and tired after spending all of yesterday hiking to the mountain top, the group asked for a rest day to recoup.