Birthday and Yuánmíng Yuán 圆明园

Yesterday – 5th June – I turned 31. It was a day which passed quietly. I did not tell most of the other teachers I work with. I’m not that fussed about turning 31, and so I celebrated in my own way – I went to watch X-Men: Apocalypse; I bought myself a cake (a small one; if you can’t treat yourself on your birthday, when can you?); and I also bought a couple of Star Wars t-shirts. I also Skyped my family back in the UK.

There are several teachers here who have a birthday in the summer – we have a meal next week with some of the Chinese teachers so we are going to celebrate everyone’s then, which is cool.

There are no classes this week, due to the Gāo kǎo (高考) -the University admissions test which final year high school students do, over two days. The school is pretty much locked down, with entry to the campus strictly controlled. I saw the fountains outside school working for the first time today, and the campus has suddenly got many new flowers in pots dotted around.

Because there were no class, today I went to Yuánmíng Yuán Park (圆明园) – Old Summer Palace – which was destroyed by British and French soldiers during the Second Opium War.There are some ruins of the old palace, which are very popular.

In the ruins there was a maze which you could walk through, and a very large lake. The weather was a little smoggy but very warm (about 30 degrees). The flowers were all out in bloom too.

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