On the 26th of October, 12 students from the Royal High school joined Beechen Cliff to embark on an amazing 10-day trip of China! All the students from the Royal High were in year 10 or 11 and therefore studied Mandarin, so we all greatly improved our Chinese conversational skills and were able to experience Chinese culture first hand. Over these 10 days we travelled to 4 of China’s largest and most beautiful cities: Beijing, Xi’an, Suzhou and Shanghai, and in each of these cities we learned about the history and culture surrounding us, as well as taking part in many fun activities!
The first place we visited on our trip in Beijing was the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, where we admired the beauty and history of both sites. Next, we were lucky enough to have a rickshaw ride through the old parts of Beijing where the streets are almost too narrow for cars – here we took many pictures! After this we were shown a traditional tea ceremony, where we were able to try a huge range of tea, each with different medicinal properties, and we learned the proper way to hold a teacup to be polite, and the fact that you had to drink all your tea in three sips, otherwise you would receive bad luck! On the next day we travelled to the Great Wall, where we had the most amazing view (and tough climb in some places!) from the most iconic monument in China. After the long walk around this site, we were able to toboggan down which was great fun! At the end of this day we travelled to the train station to wait for our first experience on an overnight train, which, despite being cramped and quite hot, was not as bad as many might think – almost everyone managed to get a good night’s sleep and it was an entertaining experience!
When we arrived in Xi’an the next morning, we were all raring to visit another of the most famous Chinese sites: The Terracotta Warriors, which were even more amazing up close than we could have imagined. After lunch we travelled to the Xi’an city wall where we cycled all along the city wall (around 13km), some even using a tandem! At the end of this day we boarded the overnight train again, with our next destination being the exquisitely beautiful Suzhou, where we visited the water town of TongLi and toured around in a traditional Chinese boat, as well as a Suzhou circus which contained some amazing acts, such as 4 motorcycles driving over each other in a large metal cage and a magician who could create doves from nothing. After this we travelled to the hotel to prepare for the Suzhou World Heritage Conference the next day, which consisted of the Royal High School and Beechen Cliff, as well as Writhlington and KES joining local teams from the Chinese schools to persuade the judges why our chosen world heritage site should receive $100 million. Our team chose Machu Picchu, and after a short presentation and some tricky questions, we were named the winners! On this day we also visited Tiger Hill and a silk factory, which were both very interesting and beautiful places. The next day we did some teaching in the Chinese schools which was fun, before meeting our homestays!
For me, this homestay was one of the most rewarding and interesting experiences of the whole trip, as we really got to see how a Chinese family lives, and really put our mandarin knowledge to the test as many of the parents of our homestays did not speak English, but it was extremely rewarding when you could sustain a short conversation with them! Our final stop of this amazing trip was Shanghai, where we were able to climb to the highest floor of the Shanghai tower and view the bustling city of Shanghai lights from above. On the last day of the trip we were able to visit the fakes market where we could bargain (which was scary at first but then became very fun – everyone was a master at the end!) for different products, and many people brought fake bags, headphones and clothes (although you had to be careful to check how fake it was – one shirt said ‘Channel’ instead of ‘Chanel’)
Overall this trip to China has been one of the most amazing experiences, where we could try so much traditional food and drink, as well as visiting all the cultural and historic places which have shaped China into the metropolis it is today, as well as a great way to immerse yourself in the Mandarin language, and I can’t wait to visit China again in the future! Thank you to Mrs Liu for organising this amazing trip for which we are all very grateful.
Marigold Whitaker, 11B