Thursday 18th July - Day 3 - The 798 Art Centre, The Beijing Zoo, The Hutong and The Kungfu show.
Thursday 18th July 2019 - Day 3 - The 798 Art Centre, The Beijing Zoo, The Hutong and The Kungfu show.
Thursday began with a slightly later start (9.30 departure from the hotel) after an even greater choice of breakfast and some of the favourite Chinese dishes tasted at dinner previously (scrambled egg and cooked tomato), along with a greater choice of the usual English classics (bacon and sausage) but Chinese- style.
After a short journey, we arrived at the 798 art centre- a quirky, arty suburb of Beijing with many small independent art galleries alongside pottery and jewellery shops. We roamed around the meandering streets and admired the graffiti art on surrounding walls, as well as the sculptures. Some even played part in a life size re-enactment of Jurassic park, posing with velociraptor installations, whilst others indulged in ice-creams and mango flavoured bubble tea.
After this, lunch was in a delightful restaurant which well decorated with red Chinese lanterns (a symbol of luck and happiness) and the food was presented even better (right down to the carved fruit for dessert)! In this meal, a refreshing duck and vegetable soup was enjoyed by all, as well as sesame seeded prawns and pork with chilli sauce and this was washed down with traditional green tea served using fresh tea leaves. Michael, Leon and Lottie even got to use their own gold chopsticks purchased in the art centre now they’re experts!
After this, the girls got their first experience of a Chinese toilet... needless to say, after all of the walking, it may have felt like an extra workout. Nonetheless, it was another ‘first’ and a challenge they accepted in order to fully immerse themselves in the Chinese way of life.
The next stop was the Beijing Zoo where we met one of China’s most famous and well- loved inhabitants- the panda. Duke, one of the distinctive bears from the zoo was chilling upon arrival but Kim managed to wake him for a quick pic... Most of us were in awe of the bears’ beauty and aware of their rarity (less than 1500 still alive worldwide) so much so that we purchased teddy (panda) bears to preserve the memory.
After this, we raced around the zoo trying to get close to some of the animals we would otherwise never get the chance to... namely, the kangaroos, hippos, African elephants and even anteaters!! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the dolphins and beluga whales but that’s something we’ll save for next time!
Then, we were whisked off to The Hutong (the ancient city alleys of Beijing) where we were able to develop further understanding of the city’s culture. Whilst dodging rickshaws, we tasted cocoa and coconut bubble tea and viewed blown sugar sculptures as well as the crafting of jewellery and even the musical talents of a flute player. The snaking streets led us to more shops and even a shop which sold stickers but, only stickers! Lily and Sophie couldn’t resist a browse.
Then, from the end of the Hutong, we met and admired the views of the river before our evening meal.
Dinner was a whole new experience today as we became more familiar with our partnered schools and even made some new friends. We then joined them at The Kungfu show which was both enthralling and relaxing at the same time. We were greeted by a small child who was so still we thought he may have been a mannequin until closer inspection told us that he was one of the monks and leading acrobats in the show. In awe, we watched as the talented performers danced, fought through martial arts and even created a percussion with the clattering of swords and knives- our show was the 9463rd performance so it was ch iselled to perfection and again, another life-long memory we will never forget.
All that was left to do today was join together in the hotel lobby to recall all of what we’d done to date and write our diaries about the first three days of our unbelievable and unforgettable China experience.