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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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).
Host mom making a necklace.
After spending our first night in Shanghai, we awoke to an amazing hotel breakfast. With “American” breakfast foods like fruits, yogurts, cereal, bacon, and eggs and Chinese cuisine such as noodles, buns, and assorted meats and vegetables, we ate maybe too much food and set out to the Shanghai museum, despite the rain.
On the way to the museum, Joyce, our amazing tour guide, told us about the history and exhibits of the museum, including jade, furniture, and paintings. When we reached the museum, we received our audio guides and were given about an hour and a half to explore the museum. Pictured below are some of the beautiful works we saw at the museum.
After a delicious lunch, we went to the Yu Garden, the home of a wealthy, upper class Chinese family in the Qing dynasty. Although the garden complex was built by said family, it was added to over time by its other owners. The ornate gardens featured jade statues, koi fish and dazzling landscapes, pictured below.
After leaving the gardens, we walked to the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street for some independent shopping. We explored the city streets, looking through small shops, haggling for better prices and buying some beautiful gifts and souvenirs. We then met up and went back to the hotel to freshen up and/or nap before dinner.
Despite the jet lag, we ate another delicious dinner and set off for the theater to see Era: Intersection of Time. Sadly, we could not take pictures or videos during the performance, but it was dazzling with daring and dangerous acrobatics, silks, motor cross, bicycles, and much more. Even though the show was very exciting, the power of jet lag proved too strong to keep the majority of us awake; many slept either during the performance or during intermission.
Tired from our exciting day and the 12-hour time difference, we retired to our hotel to sleep and get ready for our next day in Shanghai.
Monday morning we had another amazing breakfast at the hotel, this time with the addition of scallion pancakes, dumplings, and pork buns. After we checked out, we went to the Jade Buddha Temple where we walked around the temple and saw people praying to the Gods and learned about the history of the different Buddhas. Unlike the day before, it was warm and sunny. We then went to the Shanghai World Financial Center where we took an elevator up 97 floors in 60 seconds. From the 100th floor, we saw the Huang Pu River and other well known skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower. We had lunch at a restaurant a few blocks away and had a range of delicious food ranging from sweet and sour tofu to sticky rice balls. We drove by the Bundt and saw the ground view of the skyscrapers. We then head on to the train station to go to hangzhou to meet our host families.
All of Friday and most of Saturday was spent traveling. We all arrived at the airport by 9 o’clock. Our flight from Boston to Detroit was nice and short; it was like a sample of our 14 hour flight to China. We had a two hour layover in Detroit, which we spent finding lunch. There were many options as our terminal was extremely long; there was even an indoor train!
Waiting at the Detroit airport
Our flight to PuDong airport was extremely long. Most of us tried to stay awake for the majority of the flight because we wanted to get accustomed to the new time. A lot of us watched movies to keep us awake.
Once we got to the airport, we met with our Shanghai tour guide, Joyce. We then drove to our hotel, which was about 40 minutes away from the airport.
Once we got to the hotel, I met my mom’s cousin, whom I call Thomas 舅舅. 舅舅 (pronounced jiu jiu) means uncle in Chinese. He treated us to hot pot, which is 火锅 (pronounced huo guo). We cooked our own food. We were given raw vegetables and meat. There were pots in front of us where we put the raw food in to cook. Once we were done eating, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest.