Journey to China

May 09, 2018 at 7:50 PM

With thanks to Year 12 student reporter, Ben Fraser

Visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World, exploring the historic Forbidden City or enjoying the second largest Disneyland in the world were all ‘just another day’ on our fantastic trip to China. Mr Stead and Miss Yan accompanied 15 excited students on the almost 12-hour flight to China at the start of the Term 1 holidays to begin 14 days of cultural immersion in the language we’d been learning at school.

We began the trip in Beijing where we quickly discovered that street vendors are to be avoided and that the Chinese food tasted delicious! We visited the Summer Palace, home of Emperors throughout Chinese history and were in awe of its beauty and size. Covering 44 hectares, Tiananmen Square was massive, and we were only able to explore a small part before heading to the Forbidden City. There we were again reminded of the incredible scale we saw throughout China - there wasn’t quite enough time to look in all the 9,999 and a half rooms in the Forbidden City! We also stopped off at the Temple of Heaven, set in a park four times the size of Central Park. It provided the perfect opportunity to get into some traditional Chinese costumes and take a photo with our newly crowned emperors/teachers!

The next day we explored the Great Wall of China. We were left in awe of its scale, despite only exploring a few kilometres of the full 21,196 km. We rounded off our time in Beijing with a visit to Keystone Academy which gave us a fascinating insight into education in China and gave us valuable but intense practice of our Chinese skills. Our thanks to all  those at Keystone who generously gave up their time to host us.

After a challenging 14 hours travelling by overnight train, we arrived in our second city, Xi’an. The city was a hive of activity, with the bustling Muslim quarter offering us an opportunity to try adventurous traditional food and experience interesting, local activities like fish foot spas! Our Chinese language skills were challenged in buying food and gifts as all the vendors spoke very fast. But the absolute highlight of our time in Xi’an was the Terracotta Warriors. Considered by many as the Eighth Wonder of the World, we were again amazed by the scale of the discovery and the dramatic historical stories of how they came to be.

The final leg of trip took us to Shanghai were we quickly discovered the opportunities and challenges of living in a city of 24 million people! There were so many places to shop from the vast Nanjing Road to the Wujiaochang Roundabout which had five different malls around it. But some of us preferred the vast Fake Markets or Old Shanghai where you had to barter to get the best price possible. I found that appearing like you didn’t want to purchase something was the best strategy, one vendor pursued me across multiple streets to try and sell me a watch!

While in Shanghai, we also travelled to The Warehouse Group, one of the offices that supplies goods for The Warehouse in New Zealand. They gave us a fascinating presentation on their processes for finding goods to sell in New Zealand and the significant challenges they face. Thanks to everybody who made the visit possible, it was extremely valuable! Another highlight was exploring Zhujiajiao, a river town just out of Shanghai, its historical buildings provided a fascinating insight into how people lived in China throughout history.

The most fun part of the trip, though, was our day in the Shanghai Disneyland, where we explored all the fantastical rides and activities. The park is the second largest Disneyland in the world with just the castle larger than the entire original Disneyland!

For all the students, exploring China was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We gained a greater understanding of Chinese culture and society as well as exploring some incredible places along the way. We were challenged by the language and cultural barriers but ultimately found the experience to be enriching and valuable. The trip motivated us to continue studying Chinese and highlighted the benefits of being bi-lingual. Thanks a lot, to Mr Stead and Miss Yan for supporting us in this incredible opportunity. As we said many times in China: Xiexie! (Thank you!)


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