Our journey of exploration officially began! First thing was that we actually left the hotel on time (which is something we should be proud of, if you ever followed the blog posts of our previous trips you will understand), despite the fact that we began our agenda at 10 AM for today. However, before we travel to anywhere else, we had to go to the nearest metro station to input some money into our SmarTrip cards. As you may or may not know, D.C. actually has quite expensive metro fees and therefore the group who was in charge of planning for D.C. (which includes me) originally planned to have everyone walk to almost everywhere. However, after yesterday’s experience with the humid weather here, we of course changed our minds. We got on the bus to the first place planned - Georgetown University. My first impression of the Metro buses in D.C. was that it is actually quite similar to the Hybrid MUNI buses we have here in San Francisco, except one thing that SF buses don’t need most of the time - air conditioning. Later, we had to get out of the heaven of coldness and back to the desert. We stepped foot into Georgetown University and were astonished by the beautiful buildings on campus. After a while of exploration around the campus, we were able to find a campus tour and it was a fun experience, despite the burning heat. We learned more about the campus and the programs of the university, including its politics and law department as well as its pre-med program for graduate school. After the tour, we went to explore about the campus bookstore and took a break in a common area inside the building.
We made our way out the campus and were on our way to hunt for lunch. After quite a while of walking around the area near Georgetown, we finally settled down in a sandwich shop and had a late lunch. Followed by that, our next stop was the National Archive Museum. There, we saw a lot of historical records and documents, which brought back some memories and materials that I learned from my history classes in high school back then. I also saw some information about the discrimination and segregation for the Asian ethnic group back then, which triggered some of my thoughts from what I learned not only in history classes but also from what I learned through CATs (Chinatown Alleyway Tours) in CCDC. The museum closes at 5:30pm, and so we were somewhat forced out to leave the place. However, I believe that most of us did explore quite a lot inside around the building. As we exited the museum and stayed in the surrounded outdoor area, we were trying to figure out what we should do next since there seems to be a problem with our scheduled 7pm National Mall tour tonight.
After a while of discussion and rest, we finally decided to head to Chinatown, which is quite close to where we were. My first impression of D.C.’s Chinatown -- a very...”international” feeling. It was fairly easy to tell that the place that we stepped foot into was Chinatown because of its Chinese characters on almost every single store or restaurant that we encountered there. In Chinatown, we saw many international chains that include the English name, with their Chinese names underneath it from direct
translation. Examples include McDonald’s, Chipotle, Dunkin’ Donuts, Haagen-Dazs, Hertz, and Verizon Center. Now this, this is when you know that a neighborhood is gentrified. We walked about in Chinatown and later settled at a Chinese restaurant noodle shop named Chinatown Express for dinner. I ordered a roasted duck handmade noodle soup and was somewhat disappointed, with its rating of the best in the shop by a poster posted on the wall. It actually felt weird to me when I hear waiters of a Chinese restaurant taking orders in English when speaking to Chinese customers.
After dinner, we headed towards the Chinatown gate and took some photos. Then we had to head back to the Washington monument, which is the starting point of our National Mall tour. We made our way there at around 8:30pm, only a couple minutes late, but luckily the group was still there. With a close (somewhat) look at the Washington monument was when I realized how big, or how tall I should say, it is. On the tour, I also learned that the monument actually has two different shades of gray, when the workers continued the painting process after a while. We moved along to many places along the night tour, including the White House (from a very far away glance), World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, where we ended our tour. Overall, I enjoyed the tour and thought that the tour guide had a great sense of humor. I appreciated the energy he had while informing us, especially when this was his fourth tour of the day. This tour gave me a great chance to see the city’s famous and historical landmarks in night view. To me, it was a new experience.
As tiring and sleepy as we all were, we made our way back home by a half hourwalk (yes, by walking), instead of taking the bus. This was actually because it would also take around half an hour for the next bus to come. This was also when I discovered that singing while walking at night can keep you awake and make you less tired. We finally made it back home, and the first cup of lemon flavored water I had at the entrance felt like heaven to me. This was a 12/10 moment in my opinion. We explored quite a lot in D.C. today, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow for more exploration, which will also be our last day in Washington D.C.