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Eight jammed-packed and unforgettable days later, we’re about to head on home.

It feels like we just got to Beijing yesterday! But when I think back on all the things we managed to do in such a short amount of time, I realize just how much we actually did, and how much we all got to learn- from the lectures, business visits, and cultural trips, alike!

So to finish off our last day, we set off this morning to the Summer Palace, where the Emperor would spend the warmest parts of the year.  And just like all the other places we got to visit this week, we were not disappointed!  The Palace itself was gorgeous (you could tell the old rulers didn't worry about money too much), and it wrapped around a huge man-made lake.  We were so lucky that the sun finally decided to come back out today after a three-day hiatus, and the smog even managed to roll away, so the weather was perfect for enjoying the beautiful landscape! 

We also got to spend some time with some of the natives while we were there.  When we first arrived at the outer gate, it was like our trip to Tiananmen all over again.  We once again got asked to take pictures with a bunch of people, but we still had fun with it!  There was also a man painting characters all around the tile floor with water and a giant brush.  We watched him for a while while he painted words like "friends" and "USA" in Chinese to communicate, and even painted a quick portrait of one of our group members!  He was a really sweet guy, and it was great getting to spend a little while with him.

After making it down the Long Corridor (which goes for 728 meters, so yeah, pretty accurate name) it was time to head on back.  But we at Saunders love to travel in style, so we hitched a ride back to the front gates on a very impressive Dragon Boat, which is modeled after the original boat that the Emperor took to cross the lake.  It had a dragon head and tail at the front and back ends, with pillars and covering that matched the rest of the Palace buildings.  And with a nice breeze, the fast ride back was a perfect way to close up our visit!

The rest of the day was spent getting back to reality.  We packed up all our clothes, gifts, and souvenirs, and tried to spend the rest of our Chinese currency, and ended the day with dinner, a bakery stop, and smoothies before calling it one finally night in Beijing. It's hard to believe that this is my last blog post, and that come Monday morning I'll be waking up for regular old classes again.  But I know that the memories and friendships that we've all made here in China will last beyond our touchdown in Rochester.

Thank you so much for following our adventures!  Saunders China 2014 signing off!


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