Our first foray to a cultural spot was to what some might call the centerpiece of Beijing, The Forbidden City. This World Heritage Site, built in the early 15th century, was home to emperors of various dynasties for more than 500 years.
We had been to some small grocery stores, and walked the streets near the hotel we were temporarily living in, but – other than, perhaps, the airport – it was the first time we got even a small glimpse of the volume of people we would encounter in Beijing, whose population is around 21 million.
It was also our first real exposure to what would be the regular occurrence of being stared at like we were zoo animals. Presumably a combination of our heights and are blinding whiteness, this reaction from the locals was something that put into the context the most infinitesimal sliver of what minority groups in the United States have experienced.