A trip of a lifetime to China!
During the recent half term, forty-one pupils and five staff visited China for ten days.
We experienced a very hot Shanghai, a very rainy Xian and a nearly freezing Beijing!
In Shanghai, the girls went up the world’s third tallest tower: the Oriental Pearl TV tower, and had a lovely dinner up-there. We climbed the Great Wall of China, visited the Summer Palace, Tienanmen Square, Beijing Zoo, Terracotta Warriors and we rode bicycles at the Ancient City Wall.
The girls watched an exciting acrobatics show and a traditional Chinese dance. We also had the great privilege of visiting Beijing University Affiliated High School where we attended Physics, Chinese and English lessons.
The girls used their Mandarin with the Chinese students, as well as haggling with vendors in the shopping malls and in all the many opportunities whilst being immersed in the atmosphere of Mandarin in China.
We woke up at 6am every morning and each day was packed full with a variety of activities. This was our first, and very successful, trip to China. I am sure that the girls will always remember their fifteen hours overnight train experience!
All in all, the trip will surely be one that will never be forgotten and was a major culture experience for all. Thank you to Mr Allen, Mrs Johnson, Mrs Walley and Mrs Gladstone for their dedication and support in China.
Written by Ms Dovell
The China trip was a fantastic experience for students and staff. We saw many amazing sights. My highlights were
- Terracotta Warriers
- Forbidden City
- Great Wall of China
- Visiting a school in Beijing and observing a Physics lesson and the friendly interaction between Northwood College students and Beijing school students
The trip was full of very memorable sights and sounds and flavours. We enjoyed much delicious Chinese food, the skill and elegance of the acrobatic and dance shows and the friendliness of the Chinese people. We were all surprised that so many local people took such an interest in our party and were keen to have photographs taken with us.
Wow, what an amazing trip! We saw some unforgettable sites, ate a wide range of Chinese food, experienced some traditional Chinese culture and learnt a lot about the fascinating history of the Chinese dynasties.
It all started on Saturday 22 October when we met at Heathrow. Girls were eager to get going; teachers organised groups, luggage tags and phone numbers; parents said their farewells as we disappeared through departures. Several films later, we arrived in Shanghai eager to start our adventure.
In Shanghai we saw the amazing Buddha Temple with its ornate old buildings and Buddha statues of jade. Later on we strolled along the Bund, a waterfront which held an amazing spectacle of towering buildings which became even more impressive once the sun went down and the lights came on. It was here that we discovered the Bund was not the only attraction – we were! The Chinese were very curious and wanted to take our photos throughout the holiday, so you could say we had a ‘celebrity’ experience as well during this trip.
The following day we visited the Yuan gardens which were magical and the bazaar where the girls haggled well in Mandarin to get some souvenirs. The highlight of the Shanghai experience was the night visit to the Pearl TV Tower and its revolving restaurant. The view was spectacular and the food was excellent, varied and plentiful. The next day we had a cruise down the Huangpu River, we visited the Silk Museum where we saw how silk was produced and the Shanghai Museum where we saw traditional artwork, jade, ceramics and traditional clothing. Lastly we managed to fit in a quick visit to the picturesque Tianzifang art streets with little craft shops, cafes, studios, galleries and boutiques, the Soho of Shanghai, before we dashed off to catch our overnight train.
The overnight train was an experience in organising yourself in a tight space but it was the best night sleep I had since the start of the trip! The girls had mixed reviews of the experience but most enjoyed the pyjama party and feast they all had with the snacks they had bought.
Xian – It had been hot in Shanghai, it was raining and autumnal in Xian. A change of plan, we were to visit the Terracotta Warriors today; as it turned out this was very fortuitous as we found out the next day that it was actually closed because of a visit by Spanish dignitary. This was the highlight of the tour for me, to see the amazing warriors in rows knowing that this is just a very small part of the most significant archaeological excavation of the 20th century with much more to be revealed of the 5km site in the future. The sheer scale put a new perspective on the Egyptian Pyramids. Our local guide, Mary, was amazing at telling us all the stories of the First Emperor, bringing it all alive for us. In the evening we had a wonderful dumpling dinner whilst also watching traditional Chinese theatre.
Day 2 in Xian, still raining but undeterred we took to bikes and some to walking the city wall. We also visited the Bell and Drum towers which date back to the Ming dynasty. On to our calligraphy lesson; this was also a tour and lesson on the development of Chinese Art but the main event, practising calligraphy, was fascinating and all the girls really enjoyed this activity. Next an unscheduled stop to enjoy some reflexology, tired girls and teachers alike rested our wet and weary feet and enjoyed some excellent pampering including hot pebbles, and massage! Fully revitalised we then raced to the train station to catch out train to Beijing, the final leg of our tour.
Beijing – freezing cold. We had now experienced three seasons in one week. After depositing our cases and getting some breakfast in our hotel, we were straight off to our partner school. When we arrived, we watched the Chinese students approach us in an organised rank and file march across the grounds and so it was with some anxiety the girls were paired off with their partners for the day. However, they soon found common interests and could hardly bear to be parted at the end of the day! The classes were very interesting and the girls mix in, sharing smiles and jokes. The day ended with the girls singing to each other and the exchange of presents which brought a tear to the eye. In the evening we experienced a wonderful duck dinner where a birthday cake was lit and Happy Birthday sung in both English and Chinese for Vani.
Day 2 Beijing – Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. Amazing history, culture and again the sheer scale of these iconic places puts us all in awe of the Chinese history, culture and dynastic empires. The Great Wall of China was really very steep but all the girls took to it with gusto, racing up after the energetic Mr Allen who scaled to the top in no time with a few hardy followers. Others less energetic still managed to do very well and all were really pleased with their own individual performance. Exhausted and flushed with our efforts, we returned to the coach to go back to the city for our evening acrobatic show. This was again a fantastic evening showing daring high wire, roller-skating, and two men in what can only be described as a huge hamster wheel. The show culminated in the extraordinary motor bike wall of death where a terrifying number of motor bikes whizzed around a small caged ball!
Our last full day: again an actioned packed day. We started at the Zoo where we were delighted to see the famous pandas. We then went on to the Summer Palace with its amazing gardens, lake, marble boat and long corridor. After some lunch we went to the Olympic park where we got to see the famous Birds Nest and the Water Cube. Next we went to the Silk Road mall. Here the girls found all that they could bargain for down by 75% off the original prices for clothing, shoes, handbags etc. that were almost as good as the real thing! That evening we celebrated our trip and the girls thanked the teachers and Mrs Dovell in particular for organising such an amazing trip for them.
China 2016 Shanghia, Xian, Beijing. A fantastic trip for both girls and staff, lasting bonds were made – my lovely Golden Tigers – all made possible by the hard work and dedication of Laoshi Dovell. They learnt a lot, had the most memorable time and will always have a special connection with the teachers and girls who went.
Anya Chuykov (Year 11):
I did not know much about China before I went but I can honestly say it was one of the best trips of my life. The three cities we visited were each unique and had a rich history which I found very interesting.
The highlight in Shanghai was the Pearl TV Tower, where we had dinner in a panoramic restaurant which boasted a 360 degree view of Shanghai at night. In Xi'an, we went to a performance which showed the culture and history through dancing and music. In Beijing, a highlight was undoubtedly seeing the Great Wall of China. Going to the school in Beijing was also interesting as we were able to experience life in China first hand and meet some lovely people.
The whole trip was jam-packed with exciting activities, sights and places to shop. I couldn't be more grateful to the teachers, and especially Lao Shi, for giving me the chance to experience a new culture and make friends both in China and in different year groups!
Emily Gee (Year 10):
My favourite city we visited on the 2016 China Trip was definitely Beijing where we experienced the culture of the capital city of China. While we were there, we travelled out of the city to see and walk on the Great Wall of China. This was amazing as, no matter how high you are up the wall, there are beautiful panoramic views of the mountains and countryside.
We had a traditional Peking duck dinner and saw an incredible but terrifying acrobatics show. It was also really interesting to see how different the Chinese schools are to schools in England and the work ethic all the students have. Our hotel had a bowling alley in the basement so it was great to challenge other people to a game.
Every place we visited in China was really fun and I have made so many memories that will last for ever. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to go and I have made friends with people I never thought I would. I (and everyone who went) am so grateful to the teachers who came with us and made the trip the trip it was.
Gurveena Hare (Year 11):
In Xian, I really enjoyed visiting the Terracotta Warriors as they were amazing to see, as I know the incredible history behind them. We learnt that when they were first dug up they were coloured, however, soon after the colour oxidised. The Chinese have yet to find a method of preserving the colour, hence not all of the army has been retrieved. It was amazing to visit such a well-known historical site.
The Great Wall in Beijing is in a beautiful landscape, my favourite site of all those we visited. After the first flight of stairs we were much more exhausted than expected! However, we carried on walking, taking pictures every so often, then a few more flights, yet we never did overtake Mr Allen! When climbing, looking back at the rest of the wall stretching across the mountains was truly amazing.
The overnight train from Shanghai to Xian and then Xian to Beijing was fun and a new experience for us all. Overall, I felt the China trip was a fantastic opportunity for which that I am hugely thankful.
Sarina Sanghera (Year 10):
Our ten day trip started at the airport where we all met and had the excitement of going through security, shopping and finding out our seat numbers. After watching many exciting movies and flying for eleven hours, we landed in Shanghai the following morning to a day which was jam-packed with exciting activities ranging from a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple to exploring the Bund - a mile long waterfront that houses an impressive fifty-two buildings. Here we had a view of the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower where we had dinner the following evening in their rotating restaurant - a great experience.
Getting back to our hotel rooms was our time to relax and chill out with our friends after some very busy days. Out of the three whole days we spent in Shanghai, my favourite activity, apart from having dinner in the tower of course, had to be experiencing the subway which the Chinese public use every day - when we got off the tube we were able to go shopping and visit a very big bookstore with around seven floors!
To get from city to city we had to travel on an overnight train which at first we thought would be congested and uncomfortable, however, we were proven wrong as although the toilets weren’t the nicest, not to mention some were squatting ones, we had a great time and it was one of my favourite parts of the trip.
In Xian we visited the famous terracotta warriors which have such an interesting history. My favourite activity in Xian was the calligraphy lesson where we were taught new characters and how to draw them accurately with the special brush pens. Our hotel was extremely nice, it’s a shame we only got to spend one day in it!
Beijing was like no other city; it had some amazing sites but the traffic was horrible! The hotel here was also very good and even had a bowling alley. My favourite activity was definitely getting to climb a section of the Great Wall of China as it had breath taking views and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The large steep steps made it tough going but we powered through and climbed to great heights.
We also had the opportunity to visit a Chinese school where it was really interesting to see how lessons are taught. Here we met up with a buddy who introduced us to the school and we are still in contact now. We also enjoyed going shopping to buy gifts for our families back home as we were able to practise our Chinese and bargain with the shopkeepers.
Although I previously didn’t like Chinese food, I also enjoyed going to many different restaurants and trying delicious new foods that I now know to have at home, however we were allowed McDonalds/Subway a few times!
The whole trip was an all-round great experience that I am so glad to have been part of. Thank you to all the amazing teachers for making it possible.
Vanisa Patel (Year 10):
Over half term, Northwood College took a trip to China for nine nights. We spent two nights in a hotel in Shanghai then took the overnight train to Xian where we spent one night, travelling again on the overnight train to Beijing where we stayed for three nights.
In Shanghai we visited the Jade Buddha Temple where we saw some amazing statues of gold Buddhas and also spotted a number of bonsai trees. We then took a walk along the Bund which is famous for being the international hub in China for business and economics.
During the second day in Shanghai we took the subway which was a great experience, similar to the UK except for the fact that before you can even get through to the train you have to be checked by security.
From the subway, we went to an absolutely amazing bookshop which had about seven floors, all dedicated to different subjects. We then visited Chinatown where it was great fun to be able to look around and try to get a good deal shopping. After this, we went to The Oriental Pearl TV Tower to have dinner in its revolving restaurant, 263 metres high.
The overnight train was great fun and a new experience for most of us. Even though it was quite tight and small, it was enjoyable and I would recommend it to others.
When we arrived in Xian via the overnight train, the first thing we did was walk/ ride bikes along the city wall. Even though it was raining, it was still very interesting to be able to see everything on both sides of the wall and to be able to compare the two sides. We also went to see the Terracotta Warriors which was a mind-blowing experience.
Then in the evening we travelled on the overnight train again to Beijing, our longest stop and also our last which was very sad. When we arrived in Beijing it was early morning and extremely cold! Our first activity was to visit a school. We each had our own Chinese student that was assigned to be our friend for the day and we are still keeping in touch with them. It was very interesting to be able to see how they are taught and what their school experience is like.
We also visited Beijing Zoo and saw some pandas. Whilst we were in Beijing the most exciting thing we did was to climb the Great Wall of China. We were all so thrilled; we could not believe that the Wall was right in front of us! Climbing the Wall was a great experience and I would love to do it all over again.