China Trip 2019 written by Alexander Golshan-Ebrahimi (Year 10)

It was an early and cold Saturday morning wake up for all of us which led to the start the 2019 China Trip. About six hours later we were on the plane, which would take us to the great capital of China, Beijing. The pollution here wasn’t bad when we went so we were able to enjoy the amazing views all across China, starting with the Hutong areas in Beijing, which was shaped like a spider. This was our first opportunity to buy and bargain with the Chinese community for big brands and clothes. Everyone loved it, buying bags of clothes or bearing a new hat on their head. After checking in and having a much needed rest, we went out for dinner and were greeted with a huge banquet, which ranged from delicious beef dishes to eloquent pork and vegetarian dishes. Everybody had something to eat, including those with specific dietary or religious requirements, such as Mr. Hindocha, who happily dug into the vegetarian dishes, leaving only the scraps for the rest of us, if Mr. Willatt hadn’t already done so.

On our second day in China, we saw the amazing Great Wall of China which was literally breathtaking. We trekked up and down, and many of us made it to the top of the Great Wall, out of breath as we took photos of the picturesque mountains and everything else surrounding us. We then left for lunch and went to the Bird’s nest, or the Olympic stadium in China, where we looked at the Olympic stadium, which was last used in 2008. Later we went and watched an incredible acrobatics show, where we all experienced and saw something new, and later made our way to a dumpling banquet, which would be the first times that we would have dumplings. In a matter of minutes, they were gone, yet everyone was ready to have some more.

The next day was a bright and colourful day, we took the bullet train for the first time to Tianjin to visit one of our partner schools. Today was largely based on Eric Liddell, where we socialised with the other students from the school in both Mandarin and English. We had fun playing table tennis against them, many of us losing quickly but there were a few stand out players; Ali, Alex and Bijan. Later, we made our way to the Minyuan Sports stadium and raced around a 700m track. Afterwards, we went to the Tianjin Museum and learnt many facts to do with Tianjin and its history, before making our way to the bullet train and back to Beijing.

On Wednesday morning, we visited our partner school in Beijing, where we gave our speeches, presented English culture, and learnt about the Chinese school culture and traditions. Many of these differed to ours, from how they have lunch brought to their classroom, or how they have a weekly ritual of raising the Chinese flag. Later, we had a calligraphy lesson where we learnt how to write calligraphy and the history behind its creation. Then it was off to the Temple of Heaven. A phenomenal temple split into three, where we would learn about Chinese beliefs of the number 9 and see the wonderful imperial Chinese architecture. Now, we came to one, if not the, most popular part of the trip – shopping in the Chinese Pearl Market. This was where much of our pocket money was spent, browsing, bargaining and buying with the sellers. It was great fun!

In the evening, we took the overnight sleeper train to Xi’an, which was definitely an experience! We were squeezed into a train compartment for four but managed just fine, and eventually got to sleep until we got off at 8:30am. We went to see the Terracotta Warriors. Wow! We learnt lots of details about them; who built them and why. During the afternoon, we had a tour of the Muslim quarter street market, where we got to taste different kinds of food. After dinner, which was filled with delicious noodle dishes and some local Xi’An dishes, we walked to the drum and bell tower which was lit up at night, and shone beautifully in the dark.

The next day we visited the Orphanage child caring centre, where we got to play games with the children and teach them English, as well as learn about their past. If you thought you had a lot of chores at home, just come here to see what the Chinese children do! Shortly afterwards, we took a bike ride around the ancient walls surrounding Xi’an. This was the most physical part of the trip. Many of us managed to ride the whole wall, a distance of 13.4km, and a few managed to do it twice!

Day eight would be our last full day in China. In the morning we visited Beijing Zoo to see the lovable and cute giant pandas, as well as other animals, such as lions, elephants and rhinos. Later, we learnt more about about Imperial China at Tiananmen Square. Afterwards we went to the forbidden city which was the home to many emperors, with over 9,999 rooms in it. Then we climbed up Jingshan Park for panoramic views of the city, where we could look in awe at all of Beijing. For our ‘last supper’ in China, we headed off for our farewell dinner at one of Beijing’s renowned roast duck restaurants, where we watched the Chef chop up the duck for us, and learnt how to eat this with cucumber and spring onion all in a pancake.

Our wonderful trip came to an end on Sunday evening when we landed in London at about 5:30 (UK time) and made our last journey back to school, to meet our parents. This marked the official end to our trip which was amazing. Thank you on behalf of everyone to the teachers on the trip, Mr Willatt, Mr Hindocha, and especially Ms Su, for whom without the trip would have never been as much of a success as it was!