Tuesday 16th July 2019 - Day 1 - Sight-seeing in Beijing
Tuesday 16th July 2019 - Day 1 sight-seeing in Beijing.
Well, Day 1 definitely began with a peak: a visit to The Great Wall of China. This was what most students had been eagerly awaiting and, it certainly lived up to the high expectations! The day began with breakfast in the hotel- a mixture of Chinese and Western options which included deliciously fresh Bao buns with mince or vegetables and a buffet of fresh fruit, croissants, spicy sausages or eggs and even noodles!
Following this, we met our hosts and another Manchester school in Reception where we prepared to board our coach to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Josh arrived ready and raring to go in his ‘comfies’ or more commonly known flip-flops, aware that this was going to be a tough day. Little did he know just how much… With another reminder of just how grand, steep and (literally) breath-taking The Great Wall can be, Josh quickly ran to change for more suitable trainers which were definitely needed!
Upon arrival at The Great Wall, we were told we had just under 2 hours free time to explore… For Miss Cox, this was a challenge she couldn’t refuse so she rallied the troops and started the incline. But, in 33 degree heat and 15,000 steps to take, this wasn’t going to be easy to say the least so Miss Cox and Mr Cooper prepared students with a bottle of water and a few encouraging words. At this point, Leon could not contain his keen-ness to take the expedition and strode ahead like a man on a mission…
Despite sickness dizziness, wobbly legs and heavy breathing for most along the way, the most determined reached the top with exhilaration and a sense of pride at their accomplishment. Zach, being the leader, took gold when he reached the summit and was later told about the Chinese belief that those who make it to the top are, ‘...good, brave men/ warriors’. Ecstatic with his achievement, he was shortly joined by Sam, Jacob and Dominic who climbed with strength and ease, not a single breath out of place and were joined by Miss Cox and shortly after, Lottie, Leon, Hannah, Alex and Michael who also showed his talents in caring for those struggling along the way.
Once at the summit, the group enjoyed the view and a few pictures before the descent back to the starting line. Leon then described how he felt, ‘like Spiderman’ making his way down the side of the cliff. It must be said that the students really were like super-heroes in one way or another on the great climb and it definitely was a huge achievement, particularly for the very first activity!
Following this, we were taken for our well-earned lunch which was a buffet of salad and different Chinese dishes including chicken with pak choi and beef in spicy sauce, as well as squid in a rich sauce and the usual sundries of vegetables, egg-fried rice and noodles. During the first traditional Chinese meal, Miss Cox showed or in some cases reminded students how to use chopsticks and practice sessions began which were to be continued lateThe next snack for some was on the way to our next tourist attraction, ‘The Summer Palace’. Along the way, street vendors invited Abigail to come take a look at their delicacies and even hold one of their ‘pets’. It was at this point that students were faced with mealworms, scorpions, sea-horses, spiders and snakes that were most definitely not for petting. Despite this, Abigail held a live scorpion before Ella, Hannah and Dominic proceeded to eat his fried and spiced siblings cooked on a stick! Ella explained that the taste was not offensive and it was ‘just crunchy really’.
Following this, we took a walk down ‘the longest corridor in the world’ in the Emperor’s ‘Summer Palace’ and students now became celebrities on a cat-walk and people flocked for photographs, so much so, we had to count 3-2-1 and run for a group photo on our own and, even then, we got photo-bombed by Chinese families desperate to have their photo taken with the British students from SPH!
After this unbelievable first day, we had our evening meal in a restaurant nearby. This was the perfect opportunity to experience the usual Chinese table where all dishes are served and can be spun on the revolving glass to share with others on your table. During this meal, Kaden perfected his chopsticks skills and Zach, Lottie and Leon were no longer beginners and competing for the title. The meal presented students with more traditional dishes and enabled all to end the day in triumph!