University of Pittsburgh

HCC in China: Day 4

Guest blogger Tim Parenti reports for the Heinz Chapel Choir as they tour China... Day 4 – Friday 1 May 2009 4:2009年5月1日(星期五) Today was Labour Day here in China.  To my knowledge, there are no parades or anything like we might be used to in the States, but people just go out and have fun at various attractions and events throughout the week.  As such, a lot of the popular tourist attractions were filled with locals even without us. We started the day at the Olympic Park, home of the Water Cube, where Michael Phelps earned his eight gold medals last year; the National Indoor Stadium, where gymnastics events were held; and of course, the Bird's Nest.  Later in the evening, a Jackie Chan concert was to be held in the Bird's Nest, the first concert since the Olympic Games, so we had to visit first thing in the morning and couldn't go inside any of the venues.  But it was still really cool knowing that we stood just a few hundred meters away from where some of the greatest athletic feats in recent memory occurred.

 

We then made our way to Beijing's zoo to visit the giant pandas.  According to our guide, the pandas are relatively active in the morning, but if you go in the afternoon, you can't tell if they're real or not, because they don't move much.  The path by the exhibit was extremely crowded (as was much of the zoo), but we were able to see two of the pandas nonetheless, even if it did require a little bit of pushing and shoving (which, by the way, is very common here).  Because of some slight drizzle earlier in the morning, some of us even bought souvenir umbrellas to match the one carried by one of our guides. We continued onward to the Summer Palace, where it began to rain a bit heavier for a brief time.  Along with the pagodas and ornate gates, there was a marble boat in the man-made lake.  Though it's obviously not a real functioning boat, we did take a ferry across the lake which allowed the opportunity to soak in the surrounding area.

 

After a late lunch, we made our way back to the hotel to prepare for the first of our concerts.  The concert was moved on short notice to the concert hall at Mínzú University of China (中央民族大学) to better accommodate our opening act, the Jin Rong Philharmonic Chorus (Financial Street Choir), directed by Zhao Dengan (赵登安).  After a wonderful concert by both choirs, we were presented with neck-hangings as small gifts from the host choir, symbolizing friendship, which we all wore to dinner afterwards.

 

 

See more pictures from Day 4 here.  Some of them are pretty funny, and you might see someone you know!  And don't be too shy to leave a comment… I'd love to hear from you! Coming up: On Saturday, we celebrate our last day in Beijing by climbing the Great Wall of China and doing some bargaining at Yashow Market at Silk Alley.  We'll conclude the evening with a Peking Duck dinner, before retiring early to prepare for our flight to Xi'an early Sunday morning.

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