Day 2 in 北京

Our last full day in China exceeded our expectations, entailing yummy food and cultural exchanges with locals. We started off the morning early with a 6:30 wake up call and hit the road at 8:00. After about a 1.5 hour drive, we arrived at a small bed and breakfast inn in the village of Hexi outside of Beijing, from where you could actually see the Great Wall. We were then taught by the locals living there how to make traditional dumplings, including rolling out the “skin” of the dumpling into circular shapes and then artfully enclosing the filling. Everyone had a chance to try the different steps- some people mastered rolling the dough into circles, while others liked making creases on the dumplings. When we ran out of dumpling filling, some of us even managed to create buns, 包子, out of the remaining dough. 


After mastering the dumpling art, we sat down for a delicious lunch, including the dumplings we made. Other dishes included tomatoes with sugar, green beans and pepper, rice, fried chicken, broccoli, and fruit for dessert. Surely the home-style cooking made this lunch one of the best meals we’ve had. 

After a filling lunch, we traveled another 40 minutes to a non-touristy area, Jinshanling (金山岭)from where we hiked up to the Great Wall. After a grueling, sweaty 25 minutes of majority uphill stairs (comparable to a stairmaster workout), we ended up on the Wall. The view was most certainly worth the climb. After some group pictures, we proceeded for another 2 hour hike along the Wall.


Contrary to our previous belief, the part of the Wall we visited appeared not to be renovated, and we could all agree the trek was much harder than expected. Some of the stairs were so steep and narrow that we would need the support of the walls to climb up and down them, or we would need to step sideways. At downhill parts, we were tempted to run, but we were advised against it- rather, we were encouraged to squat-walk to maintain balance. 


Adverse weather conditions did not stop us – heavy wind and light rain was actually a nice surprise for all of us, since so many of of the days had been 90+ degrees. Taking many pit stops during the hike made this difficult hike more easy for everyone, and everyone was glad to reenergize and eat a nice BBQ dinner at the base of the wall. We had many raw vegetables as well as chicken, hot dogs, and lamb. We even made some s’mores and, for lack of graham cracks, we made use of some spare Oreos as a replacement. We then made the two hour trip home. The wall was definitely a highlight for me and for many of us, and we were all exhausted by the end of this incredible day.

Day 2 in 北京

Arriving and Day 1 of 北京

We arrived to Beijing through the bullet train and met our guide at the train station. Then, we headed to eat dinner, one of the most famous dishes in Beijing, Peking Duck. Peking duck was served whole by the chief and we watched as it was chopped to pieces. The tour guide showed us how to properly wrap the duck, using hoisen sauce and a thin layer of wrap. Within the wrap, we could put lettuce, and other things. Shortly after dinner, we went to our hotel.

On the second day, we sightsaw Tiananmen Square. First, we visited a structure with Chairman Mao’s portrait on the front. That Chairman Mao was portrayed in a prominent way shows how he was idolized and even viewed as a God to some of the Chinese.

 After viewing this structure, we went to the Forbidden City, a city that only the king was allowed to live in. It was located fairly close to Chairman Mao’s structure. We did a scavenger hunt, taking photos in front of famous monuments and we had a fun time learning about stories and cultural facts that made up the Forbidden city.
After the awesome sights we experienced from the Forbidden city, we ate lunch and headed to the Beijing Zoo to see the pandas. I personally have never seen pandas before and it was amazing to see them because they seemed serene and peaceful. 
After the zoo, we did a little shopping at the Pearl Market, an indoor bazaar that was 4 floors tall. I think everyone had a lot of fun shopping and bargaining. I know that I will definitely miss this aspect of shopping in Beijing. 

​​Our first day in Bejing was wonderful and significant to our cultural and historical understanding of China.

Arriving and Day 1 of 北京

First Day in Luoyang

Today we took a train from Xi’An to LuoYang. When we arrived in Xi’An it was raining and we went straight from the train station to lunch at a nearby hotel. After we ate, we drove to the Longmen Grottoes. Once we arrived, we took a golf cart from the bus to the caves and walked around.

The Longmen Grottoes are a collection of 2,345 caves with carvings of Buddha and his disciples in them ranging from 1 inch to 57 feet tall. 

After walking around the Longmen grottoes, we took the bus to our hotel. 

First Day in Luoyang

A Day in Luoyang!

We woke up in Shaolin to the beautiful mountains and to an amazing breakfast (the pumpkin surprise buns especially) in the hotel. First on the itinerary was visiting the second largest Kung Fu school​ in Luoyang! Luckily, it was only two minutes away from our hotel. As we arrived, the courtyard to the school was filled with students practicing Kung Fu, some so small they had to be barely seven and others at least almost college age! They all wore uniforms with red jackets and long black pants; only a few rolled them up, so we could only marvel at how they survived in the heat. Students weren’t the only thing, there also were MONKEYS in the courtyard. Our guide Joe explained that the students would try to watch the monkeys, see how they move, and then mimic that. I personally couldn’t believe that anyone could even come close to mimicking a monkey, but then we went to see the Kung Fu show…

War cries, whips cracking, and the sound of metal against metal barraged us as young boys in monk outfits leaped, flipped, and punched to dramatic music. Probably the most astounding thing was the boy who broke a piece of METAL with his hand– and then with his head! Or perhaps it was the seven year old boy who had been training since he was FOUR who could bend his legs behind his head and roll around with more flexibility than a Barbie doll. Either way, we all were  completely amazed!


After the amazing show, we were brought up to a training room and were given the chance to learn some of the moves! Two of the most senior students were our teachers, and although the move set was a little “kung fu-sing” (excuse my pun) the teachers were patient with us and we all eventually knew the set well enough to compete against one another. To learn the moves, we had been split up into three lines, so for the competition each line performed for the other two without any of the teachers’ help! As a proud member of the esteemed Line One, I am happy to report that we took home the win! 

We were all absolutely starving after such a work out, so for lunch we were taken to this AMAZING, completely vegetarian restaurant. What was astounding and also was the restaurant’s defining train was the amount of dishes that looked, smelled, and even vaguely tasted like meat, yet were 100% meat-free! 

Now fueled up, we conquered the mountains. Our guide Joe took us to see the Shaolin temple where martial arts masters trained for centuries, and the pagoda forest which housed both old and new pagodas. 


Then, we took a gondola ride up to Song mountain– which was perhaps the most beautiful thing we had seen on the trip. The mountains were absolutely breathtaking and unlike any other mountain range with its unique structure. We hiked leisurely through a winding path, admiring every sight and having fun with the incredible echoes!

After such an amazing and tiring day, we all headed back to the hotel for a relaxing dinner and then crashed back in our rooms, (slightly sad yet) ready to travel to Beijing the next morning. 🙂

A Day in Luoyang!

Last Day in Hangzhou!

Sunday was our last day with our host families in Hangzhou. Some activities included going to a cat café, seeing movies, going to an amusement park, making pottery at a local museum, and eating a final goodbye dinner with our hosts. 
My first stop after a leisurely breakfast was a pottery museum and studio. The museum had pottery from thousands of years ago. We got to see how they made the pottery in the ancient times. After waking through the museum we got the opportunity to make pottery ourselves (the modern way). 
My host wanted to but some pet fish so we went to the pet shop. It was a little bit depressing to see the animals locked in cages and meowing or barking to get out. After holding some adorable rabbits and observing backflipping squirrels, we were on our way to the shopping street. 

We went to a traditional Chinese shopping street that sold tea, metalwork, silk, and Chinese snacks. We went inside a tea and pottery shop and sat down for some tea with the owner of the store. She made us tea in the style that we learned at Greentown. 



In the evening, we went to a traditional Peking Duck dinner at a local restaurant. Our family taught us how to correctly wrap the duck in the rice paper. We had no idea we were doing it wrong!  


We all had fun weekends spending time with our hosts and their families. We will miss our hosts so much and will remember their hospitality forever. 

Last Day in Hangzhou!

Friday 6/17 Our Last Day at Greentown Yuhua School

Friday was the last day we spent at the Greentown Yuhua school. We spent a while preparing presentations for each aspect of our learning in Hangzhou. Tasha, Chloe, Lilia, LamAn, and I presented and performed the tea ceremony. Grace, Selina, Alex, Ellie, and Andrea gave a presentation on the different ways of making and recycling paper. We had learned all about it at the factory two days before. Finally, Simran, Nicole, Karen, Cat, Megan, Ariela, and Mikayla presented and performed a Yue opera. It was about two friends who fight over a boy but eventually realize their friendship is more important. Their performance ws hilarious and everyone enjoyed the short opera.

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After the presentations and performances, each Winsor girl gave gave a one minute speech about what they had learned in Hangzhou. Each girl mentioned the amazing girls and boys that were their hosts. We are so grateful for everything our hosts have done for us.

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Finally, each Winsor girl was given a yellow uniform from the Greentown school. We each took individual pictures with our host person (to many to post here) and we all took a group picture.

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After these festivities, each Winsor student received a certificate for completing their studies at Greentown. It was a great morning!

The afternoon was a trip to the Xixi Wetlands in Hangzhou. We took a motorized boat in a loop and looked at all the amazing scenery. At the end of the boat ride, we even saw a practicing dragon boat!

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When we got off the boat, we were allowed to explore the many shops and stores around the wetland. Simian showed off her amazing bargaining skills when trying to buy tea. Everyone eventually got something they loved. We met back up and went to one more store before catching a ride back to the gate. The bus ride home was long and full of traffic, but many people were excited to go to karaoke. After arriving back at school, everyone went home with their host families. It was an amazing day that was rich with the culture and history of China

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Friday 6/17 Our Last Day at Greentown Yuhua School

Hangzhou Day 1

Today was our first full day in Hangzhou. After eating a breakfast of eggs, fried rice, glutinous rice balls, and cereal with milk, we went to school to attend a few classes. The first class I attended was General Technology. The teacher was teaching the class how to build a desk, and had the students sketch certain parts of the desk. Then I went to math class, in which the students were solving problems using trigonometric functions. I understood some of it, but I could not understand the Chinese characters in front of the functions. In general, I noticed that the students and teachers did not engage in two-way conversation like we do at Winsor. Furthermore, it was interesting that the students did not ask their teachers or peers questions as frequently as we do. 
After the classes, our group learned about Chinese tea art. The process of preparing and serving the tea is intricate, detailed, and graceful. The tea making process entails rinsing the cup with warm water to ensure that the temperature of the tea is exactly 80 degrees, soaking the green tea leaves in the water to absorb the flavor, and then pouring in the hot water. When serving the tea, the server must now to the receiver, place the tea cup on the table, and then step back and bow once again. 
After eating a delicious lunch of eggplant, rice, chicken, and sugar snap peas, we departed from the school and went to visit the renowned West Lake. We walked around and explored the area, and a few of us even went out on the lake in a boat. The extremely large lake was evidently a central part of lifestyle in Hangzhou, for the area was filled with people strolling and talking with friends, eating snacks, going out in boats, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery, and going for runs. The lake is also a popular tourist destination. I took many pictures of the lake (attached below)! 
For dinner, my host family took Lilia and I out for 面条 (noodles) with 猪肉 (pork) and 汤 (soup). It was delicious! When we returned home, our host mom showed us her jewelry collection and how she makes necklaces using different types of stones (turquoise, agate, Baltic Sea beeswax, etc). 
Below are some pictures and videos. 

1. Hangzhou’s West Lake (taken from the boat). 

2. Host mom making a necklace. 

Hangzhou Day 1