Dear Parents and Guardians,
We begin our final reflection with our time in Beijing, having arrived safely on the bullet train and from meeting our new guide, Lily.
Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest square, was our first sightseeing destination on Friday. With the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China approaching next week, this was the last day it was open to the public, so the crowds were well and truly out. Once we observed the expanse of the square and took photographs of the iconic Tiananmen Gate, with the portrait of Mao Zedong, we made our way to the underpass to cross over to the Forbidden City. This turned out to be quite a challenging experience.
A 2km walk took us through vast courtyards with central temples, official buildings and residences. One could only imagine what it may have been like in the days of the emperor and his court. After lunch we walked through tranquil gardens towards the majestic Temple of Heaven – an oasis in this bustling city. One of the highlights of the trip for a few was the Kung Fu show that night at the famous Red Theatre.
Saturday saw us venture out to the Great Wall of China. The day turned out to be most rewarding. It lived up to its reputation as one of the iconic wonders of the world. Despite the steep accents along the wall, there was a unified sense of satisfaction when we reached the top of the first watchtower, having started at the sixth. The views were amazing as we marveled the ingenuity of the construction of the wall, over such challenging terrain. Children and adults alike enjoyed the toboggan ride back down.
With our hotel located within a stones throw of Tiananmen Square, it became a part of a government lock down. This meant we had to be back in our hotel and off the street by 5.30pm. All traffic and public transport was stopped. Whilst we entertained ourselves with games and snacks, outside the window we saw hundreds of bus loads of performers, military personnel and soldiers heading towards the dress rehearsal for the October 1st parade. Even now as we write on Sunday evening, there is over 100 buses parked on the street for the second part of the rehearsal. We look forward to seeing the highlights on TV.
Our final day of the tour was spent out at the Summer Palace, having got a glimpse of the Water Cube and Bird’s Nest 2008 Olympic stadiums as we passed by. The students got a taste of how to barter during our visit to The Pearl Market, some of them proved to be quite successful (or so they thought). In lock down again, our final dinner of the trip was at one of the hotel restaurants, where we were treated to a private dining room. Many laughs and reflections of the trip were had.
Onward home we go. Special thanks to Spiros for all his help.
We hope the students have many fond memories and stories to share for a long time to come. The students have been wonderful ambassadors for their country, school and their families. We have certainly enjoyed sharing the experience with them. It was nice of the Chinese Government to put on a fireworks display for us on our last night (though perhaps not every 10 minutes for an hour and half at since 11:30pm).
Peter and Ashlee
Our recent highlights and interesting observations:
Jared – I really enjoyed the bullet train because of how fast and smooth it was, and how quickly we arrived in Beijing. Along The Great Wall was a nice but painful walk. The views of the mountains were extremely breathtaking. The toboggan ride back down was very fun, but we had to stop and start a lot because of other people in front of us were slow. Overall, it has been a fantastic experience, trying lots of different foods and seeing how different it is to Australia.
Frank – The bullet train was really smooth. It is exciting being here when the 70th anniversary celebrations are taking place, getting to see military tanks drive down the street. I enjoyed the Kung Fu show and I have liked seeing the street lights. Overall, it was a great experience as I have never been to China before.
Charlotte – The Great Wall of China was a highlight because we went up in a ski lift and came down on a toboggan. Everybody was excited. I was sprinting up most of the way on the Great Wall, even up really steep steps so it would be quicker. The Summer Palace had beautiful gardens and the boat ride on the lake was nice. Overall, the Great Wall was my favorite place of the trip. It was an amazing trip and everybody had a great time.
Lexi – The bullet train was fun because it was so smooth and relaxing. I liked the Kung Fu show because I jumped out of my seat, when a performer jumped up near us. The Great Wall was tiring and we saw so many giant centipedes. The meals have been much of the same on this tour, so I bought fried grasshoppers to eat as something different. Overall the trip was exciting and enjoyable and I’m glad I came.
Khubi – The bullet train was really interesting in how fast it was. The most amazing thing for me was the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall of China. The rest of the sightseeing was great but not as interesting as those two. The lock down was very exciting because of the way the Chinese people did their parade compared to an Australian one. Overall, China is really interesting and a place but I don’t want to be without my family.
Natasha – The Great Wall of China and the Summer Palace had lots of stairs, but were both rewarding with breathtaking views. It was interesting that the Government shut down all the roads to prepare for the 70th Anniversary of China’s independence. I also enjoyed the boat ride at the Summer Palace because we could see the whole palace. Overall I enjoyed the experience of being in China and getting to know everybody.
Rahnia- I enjoyed riding the bullet train to Beijing. Also the Great Wall of China was really exciting and how we rode the toboggans down. Tianamen Square was an interesting experience because we saw the biggest square in the world, and also it got really crowded in the under ground tunnel so we had to find a way out. Today we went to a four storey indoor market, and I bought gifts for my friends.