Friday 27th July 2018
The Great Wall
The early start today meant we needed to be well fuelled ready for the hike… We began in the hotel with breakfast of fresh fruit (watermelon or honey dew melon) and freshly baked goods. Other choices included the usual Chinese noodles and dishes or their take on an English breakfast, consisting of chicken sausage, bacon, eggs and tomatoes. Once fully replenished, we prepared ourselves with a nap on the coach before, ‘The Great Wall’.
Being early in the morning, it was not too hot, (thank God!). Whilst we had been told about the steps and how steep and long ‘The Great Wall’ was, we were still somewhat surprised by its grandeur and the challenge we would embark on!
With an hour and a half, we ran, hiked and climbed up the many, many steps and slopes to reach the top! What an achievement!! Despite the sweat, puffs and pants, we made it!! We took our group photos and agreed to have photos with other Chinese students; we felt like celebrity sports men and women who had won the Olympics!
The descend seemed like a further race to the bottom to meet Linda’s meeting time. But, again, we did it! When we reached the bottom, we saw the other schools sat on picnic benches (not a bead of sweat in sight!). We asked how far they had gone and, of course, it was nowhere near the distance of SPH! (What a team of warriors we are!).
Then, we went to the Hutong area to experience traditional Chinese living. Here, we travelled by rickshaws in pairs steered by extremely fit and skilled men who wove in and out of the busy but narrow streets. We were taken to a maze of small streets and we meandered through them to see more skilled artisans and food stalls: one shop had a man sugar-blowing and creating lollipops of pigs and birds which he did with ease in minutes whilst you watched. After this, we visited a traditional home with all four quarters which was covered with vines and grape trees to enclose the courtyard. In here, we were welcomed by the host and mother of the family who answered any questions we had and allowed us to roam freely about the house and see the kitchen, living quarters and even art workshop with calligraphy and traditional Chinese paintings.
After this, we were taken to The Silk Market which held 6 floors of shops, ranging from Oriental clothing and kimonos to thick fur coats and electrical goods and watches. We looked around, bought any further luxuries we desired and left for dinner. This was a traditional meal around a circular table with 9 people seated- something we are now somewhat accustomed to and, were now confident enough to mix with other schools since our chopstick skills could be judged as ‘on point’!