Cultural and Linguistic Trip to China
Our first ever cultural and linguistic trip to China, taking in Beijing and Xi’an, was a resounding success.
We were able to visit the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, bringing back amazing memories of the last Olympic Games. Visits included the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Summer Palace with a little time for relaxation on a boat ride, the Great Wall – probably the highlight of the trip for the majority of us - and the Ming Tombs. We were whisked round the Hutong quarters in rickshaws and had lunch with a Chinese family, experiencing at first hand life in the small and crowded houses of this district.
The overnight ‘soft’ sleeper train delivered us to Xi’an after an 11-hour journey in cramped and very quaint surroundings! Just walking through the main station to find our platform was a feat! There, we discovered the site of the Terra Cotta Army, raced on bicycles on top of the city wall (with Mrs Jones acting as a referee, ensuring fairplay!), took part in a calligraphy workshop and learnt all about the Ming Dynasty, finishing off with a cable car ride near the Hua Hot Springs which offered a beautiful view of the whole area. We practised our language skills with our guide on the coach before visiting a school in the town centre and taking part in a lesson and in some sporting activities, whilst Mrs Strudwick even managed to teach a lesson to a class of some 55 students…
We were treated to wonderful food every day and in particular sampled Dumplings and Peking Duck as a special treat. Our chop stick work is now second to none! We also indulge our taste buds with a traditional tea ceremony. Two evening shows –the Acrobatic Show and Tang Dynasty Show - delivered a new cultural dimension to our visit.
We managed to visit some local markets where such delicacies as roasted spiders, snake and crocodile meat were on sale. Our newly-acquired bartering skills were put to the test very successfully and we have come back with a few items which could easily be taken for the real thing!
The trip was an amazing introduction to Chinese life and culture and we hope to be able to visit China again.