Today started startlingly early, with a 6.30 wake up call. Not fun. We collectively showered, ate and put on a varying degree of western business attire. Me, Dom and the Big Boss (Moline) were clearly the sharpest dressed. Soon we were off to Peking University.

      Traffic was interesting, to say the least. At some points, the highway had no lanes, although that didn’t really change most driver’s habits. Sooner or later (an hour and a half later) we arrived at the University, and waited for our liaison. Kevin waved like a silly American at every bus that passed by, occasionally even jumping in the air. Our guide, Leo Guang Chen, soon appeared, and we were ushered into the campus. Not exactly what I was expecting, to be frank. It was not much like Beijing, with lush greenery and buildings scattered haphazardly across the landscape.

      Once we arrived at the point of our meeting, we all were not quite sure what to expect from the presentation. We knew the professor worked with the government, so we expected the party line on almost any sensitive issue. We were sort of wrong. He was very frank, but in a way that preserved the bottom line of the party line, disagreeing with the government in the details, but not the structure or principal. Still, it was a very interesting meeting, and our understanding of the underlying Chinese attitude towards the world emerged much enlightened. As we left, we presented gifts to our hosts ranging from genuine to the Mao lighter.

      We also saw the sun for the first time in China, but it quickly faded. We’ll keep you updated.

      Quickly, the serious nature of Chinese TSA became evident. I was searched twice at the checkpoint, and I’m fairly certain my baggage was rummaged through. Oh well. The flight was long on the ground, short in the air and shorter on space. We soon arrived in Xian, and all received our luggage. We met our new tour guide, he called me a nerd, and we heard some good redneck jokes. We soon entered the city, and lodged at a great hotel, from which I am typing this now.

-Zach “Harry Potter” Holden

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