“It made you sweat buckets,” he said.
The smog in the air made it difficult to breathe. It also coated everyone with what he called the “Beijing film” that he found he could actually scrape off his skin.
The group toured Tienanmen Square the first day, a large thoroughfare near the Forbidden City and the final resting place of Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-Tung).
The Forbidden City is huge, Donoghue said, with many buildings painted in a variety of vivid colors.
“It’s very colorful. It pops,” he said.
The entire area is laid out according to the principles of Feng Shui, Donoghue said, to be in balance with the forces of nature.
The group also toured a Buddhist temple and the Summer Palace, the home of emperors during the warmer months. They were able to take a short dragon-boat ride across the man-made lake in front of the palace.
The students enjoyed a Peking duck dinner, then returned to their rooms at about 10 p.m. Donoghue said most guest beds are extremely firm.
“The beds are so hard, but you’re so exhausted.”
The second day, they visited the Temple of Heaven, where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would pray for a good harvest.
While the students were in Beijing, the only Internet service they had access to was the Chinese version of Google, so they knew the information they could get was censored.
ATE FRIED SCORPION
The third day, the group went to the Great Wall and then a Hutong market. Even though they had been advised not to eat foods cooked at the market, Donoghue said he tried a cicada and then a scorpion, both fried and served on a stick.
They were crispy and salty, cooked without breading but with a variety of spices.