As we prepare ourselves for our take off, we are looking forward to meeting our new friends in Beijing and Xi'an on Sunday evening. Can't wait for all the new adventures!
Update, Saturday 14th
Seven Kings are go! After a very smooth journey from our beloved Ilford, here we are, 15 of us, on a giant A380, ready for our flight to Dubai. We'll arrive Dubai early Sunday hours, and transfer for BEIJING, CHINA!
Update, Monday 16th
Greetings, from a very hot and muggy China. Today we have enjoyed the world famous Terracotta Soldiers, after a coach ride out of Xi'an. Amazing slice of history. This afternoon we'll have some needed rest time. News: we are still awaiting the correct SIM card to use the school phone and also the hotel WiFi connection isn't working. Sorry for little contact from pupils. All is well and all having fun!
Update, Thursday 20th
Finally we got a working connection.... and here are some snapshots of some experiences in the last few days...
Visit terracotta warriors
We were all very excited to visit the terracotta warriors, as they are such a big part of Xi’An and China. They made 6’000 of the warriors to protect the emperor in the after life. They are all unique. For the first day it was a long one. With heat and humidity that we all struggled with. Also around the middle of the day it started to rain very hard for about 5 minutes and within 10 minutes it was dry again and very humid. It was a great day but we all found it too long for a first day after 36 hours of traveling. Joe.
Dinner at a village restaurant
Dinner at a village restaurant was a unique yet interesting experience. We were able to taste food that was fresh from a farm, and food that we may have never tasted before. There was an immense choice of food. Most dishes included a lot of vegetbales, however there was also chicken. Although a lot of people did not enjoy the unique food, I enjoyed it very much! The area of the restaurant was different to the area in which we stayed as it was more rural and there was a lot more greenery. It looked very beautiful and it was overall a fantastic day!
Evening trips to find supermarket goodies
A trip to the local supermarket was always something we looked forward to. After a long day, a walk through the streets of China to reach our awaited destination of the supermarket is always wonderful. Walking through the aisles to see foods of Chinese culture was a new experience. It was just as amazing to see foods from our culture and as usual, takes us back home. Fathima.
Jogging in the local park
Jogging in the Park was an amazing experience because the hot weather was an ineffective factor compared to the beautiful scenery. The local people are very caring and friendly towards us foreigners as they had noticed our hard work and also our appreciation towards their country. The park being a busy place with deep green trees and a lake was a view worth dying for. As we ran it felt like we were introduced to new scenes at every turn, I thoroughly enjoyed the jogging experience. Yousuf.
Our coach journeys and the road systems
Being on the coach for us was not only a way of relaxing and getting from destination to destination but having a tour guide who informed us about so much interesting and important knowledge about Chinese culture and the meaning behind so many historic areas in China made the whole experience even more fun and exciting. We got to understand and realise that there is such a depth to Chinese history and were able to really see things through the eyes of the Chinese people as we were fortunately offered such an important and rare opportunity . Along the way we got to further develop our knowledge of Chinese road systems and see different kinds of roads ranging from small village roads to main motorways. It was overall a thrilling experience and I couldn’t be more greatful. Zaynab.
Perusing sellers and stalls and buying our first souvenirs up the street near city walls
We had many opportunities to buy such intricately made traditional Chinese items and souvenirs, however I think the most interesting time was when we were at SH by the city walls and we had the chance to go off independently and use the mandarin negotiating skills we learnt at the Bo’ai international school. Most of us managed to get the price down using mandarin. It was a good experience which allowed us to socialise with another culture and helped us understand their way of life at the market. Nyrah.
The opening ceremony: dignitaries’ speeches, performances, Nabil on piano, Mr F speech
The speeches were really good and really enhanced the amazing welcome we received. Nabil showed excessive skills and did our school proud. Kareemah.
Observing Chinese consumerism, visit to a mega shopping centre, Saga, including lunch at Pizza Hut
The shopping centre was absolutely massive. It probably had every shop you could have thought off with quite cheap prices. The building was very well built with glass and many aesthetically pleasing waterfalls. Pizza Hut was also just like it was in England but even better. The food was amazing even though we had a quick meal. Overall it was very good. Matas.
Meeting our exchange students and the first time visiting the exchange school, Bo’ai international school
It was an overwhelming experience being able to put our trained Chinese into action with our new friends, including building a bond between England and China. They welcomed us with open arms and a water bottle to make sure we were comfortable in the humid environment. We were given time to chat and get to know our new friends, and had a gift exchange to break the ice. Overall I enjoyed the experience as we were exposed to a new culture and way of life.
A football match against some serious Chinese football fanatics
The football match was very intense. No one realised that the football match would be so serious. They were surprisingly really good and made a very difficult opponent.
The football match gave us a lot more opportunities to make friends from different schools. We came out victorious even though we were 2-0 down to make it 3-2. Overall I thought it was very fun and introduced me to more people. Nathan.
BBQ in the evening
After a long day we had a BBQ it was a very small BBQ with lots of food on it. They had no burgers or stuff like that it was beef and chicken skewers. Joe help to cook the BBQ with small other people from other schools, he put a little too much chilli flakes on with some of the beef skewers he was cooked but it was really nice. Joe.
The first Chinese lessons and meeting our Chinese teachers
Walking into the classroom, at first we were all a bit nervous and shy. We sat down next to our Chinese students. We began to start off with simple sentences and gradually we became more comfortable. It was fascinating to see how the Chinese teachers methods differ to ours and how much longer the average school day is. Celine.
A morning visit to the ancient Wild Goose pagoda and surrounds
The wild goose pagoda was an amazing experience with beautiful shrines and stunning architecture. All of us enjoyed this place especially when we were able to have a look at the shrines of the Buddhas and God’s that the Chinese people believed in. It was truly great to see the large golden figures and there intricate designed rooms carved perfectly and plated with gold. Yusuf.
Out of the comfort zone, learning to dance Chinese traditional
Walking into the classroom at first glance I had no idea as to what was about to come. The experience was first class from an amazing teacher. We learnt a whole routine of a traditional dance which was very well taught. We even got a glimpse at another one of her routines which was beautifully performed. Even though the learning was hard, I think that everyone had fun in the end. Matas.
Visit to a marvel of Chinese modern industry - Nongfu spring water factory
A water factory. What could be so interesting? Well it turns out a lot. Nongfu is one of china’s biggest water and beverages producers and has the worlds biggest fully autonomous production line developed in Germany. When we walked round we were able to learn about the PH’s of different water in China. As we began the tour around the production line we had a chance to try some of the many drinks they make, which were all really nice. As we near the end of the tour we saw the warehouse where I don’t think anyone on this trip had seen so much water and beverages. It was great to see all the machinery that goes into making purified water to drink. It makes you think as pick up a bottle of water, it hasn’t just been put in a bottle it has a long process first. Joe.
Daming Palace and grounds, the museums - paper rubbing and digging for treasure
Daming palace was a beautiful place with surreal scenes of nature and fun activities for the students. Digging for treasure was a thrilling activity where we would dig in a pit of sand for statues or coins that were hidden beneath. A few students managed to discover a few treasures and I believe that everyone enjoyed the experience. Also paper rubbing was an artistic experience that I had never before been aware of. The designs made were very well made and I believe that again it was thoroughly enjoyed. The museum was also a very interesting place packed with history of the Tang Dynasty to present a clear contextual gift. Overall the experience was one I would unhesitantly accept again and would recommend for others to also attempt to visit the glorious palace. Yousuf Hussain.
Visit to the theatre: dumpling feast and musical show
The dumplings were very nice and was a new experience. The show was very nice and was a nice way to show the history of some of China. I really enjoyed it and I think everyone else did. The food went down very nicely and the show was a cherry on the top. Overall I think it was an amazing experience.Nathan.
Hanging out with senior school friends in Xi’an senior school, and a tour of their school
The students were so welcoming and very talkative which was very heartwarming. I had a very good conversation with multiple students. The tour of the school was really Interesting with a really good history as we all learnt. Not only I that but they had a museum which was also very interesting. Furthermore, we enjoyed making porcelain designs which was very fun. Matas.
Update, Tuesday 24th
Visit to the old city walls and riding bikes
Xi’an Is one of the best cities of China to have maintained its original old city walls. So to visit them, climb up, and take a walk around the breathtaking structure was an incredible experience. Whilst some hired bikes, and others trotted along slowly, others stayed near the souvenir vendors And bought their first gifts.
The walls extend for several kilometres in a large rectangle, therefore it is almost impossible without a lot of walking to cover their whole length.
Taking a walk in the huge han Chang park and rivers, bridges
China is very good, it seems, at maintaining public spaces for enjoyment and relaxation. This park was a good example of land management, mixed with leisure facilities. Very well tended park surrounded a beautiful lake, with various bridges and fixed structures to enjoy. Even though the temperature was nearing 40 degrees centigrade, we enjoyed another good walk, with a pleasant breeze.
Introduction to the music of China, and the geography - and a drink of jasmine tea
One of the cultural highlights of the program at the school, was an introduction to traditional Chinese music. Not only did our special teacher introduce various singing and musical styles, but also she gave us some video highlights of the various geographical areas of China. We had an opportunity to learn the very famous jasmine flower traditional Chinese song, and of course some of us had an attempt at singing out loud. Mr Ferraby also gave us a solo.
Final Chinese lesson and how I felt after my lessons
In such a short time it was difficult to feel confident with the Chinese language, but surprisingly with the final test we were pleasantly encouraged by how much we had learnt. The teachers had prepared clear and useful lessons, and for the final test we were able to demonstrate our abilities. We hope to continue our Chinese studies in the future.
Day out with partners:
Celine: the day began going to the market where I was asked if i wanted chicken legs and duck. I was then taken to their house where they cooked the food we bought. I was very nervous as I didn’t want to be impolite. Later we had lunch and then went inside the drum tower where we saw views of Xi’an. Later we visited the Muslim market, there were some familiar foods and some very unusual foods such as octopus. It turned out to be an experience i will never forget.
Joe: the day began going toward street food stole were we sat out side on the worlds smallest seats ever. After that we were ament to go to Shaanxi history museum but the que was around the block about half a mile long. So we were going to go to the mountains but we decided to go to the nature museum which was really cool were we learnt about how coal has change China, dinas
Zaynab:to say the least the day was something I will never forget I started wi5 the worst nerves and anxiousness that seemed to have been only getting worse until I finally met my Chinese friend who was so excited to see me and tell me about everything she had planned for the day. We started off by going to a bell tower but got really distracted by the kfc long story short the chips were the highlight of my day along with the next part which was the Muslim quarters which were full of so many pretty and traditional foods duck feet fish and octopus tenticles and souvenirs.this day was most definitely the highlight as I finally got to try nitrogen balls which was a unforgettable experience as I’d searched years and a couple countries for them. Then came the final goodbyes and drop offs and I can proudly say I made a friend for life and she was a pleasure to spend the day with and I’d like to think she’d say the same since I was on my best behaviour.it was a day to remember for sure even the tenticles .
Nyrah: I have to admit that spending the day with my Chinese friend was one of my highlights of the trip. At first, I had the initial nervous feeling that the Language barrier and differences in culture and way of life would come in the way of having an enjoyable experience, however in the lobby i was kindly greeted by my friend and her family with a warm welcome which made me feel more comfortable. My Chinese family took me to a variety of different and exiting places. For example, the day started off with some fishing. Although I didn’t catch any fish, I still got to take in some of their culture and understand how much work is put in for them to get food on the table. We then went to an amusement park where we went on some rides. After that we went to an aquarium, a ‘haunted jungle experience’, saw a 4D movie and went to a picturesque lake. For dinner we went to KFC which made the day even better! My Chinese family were amazing and I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity I was given.
Nabil: As we met in the reception room of our hotel, I was kindly greeted with my Chinese friend, I was nervous at first as we both spoke completely different languages but I later realized that his English was actually pretty good. Our journey began in the Muslim quarter area of Xi’an, We tasted various different foods including sweets made in freezing liquid nitrogen, Plum juice lollies and even a grilled saltwater crab. Although I nearly got robbed with 150¥ at the Muslim quarter area it made me more cautious of where I should put my valuable items in crowded streets like the Muslim quarters.
After the Muslim quarters we had a long drive to the huashan area of Xi’an, an isolated area flooded with vast mountains, we made a huge mistake ascending up a mountain by foot instead of by car, it was boiling hot a stunning 46 degrees and we were on our own for 1hour 45 mins ascending up the mountain. This was probably one of the scariest moments of my life as we were completely alone on the mountain, no emergency centres or emergency telephones just the vast mountains and two teenagers. Finally we had successfully reached the summit of the mountain, the views were truly spectacular and worth tte pain and heat. After an two hour descend of the mountain we then drove back to Xi’an by my car. Arriving at the shopping mall we were greeted by more of my School friends, Nathan, karremah and Nyrah and their Chinese partners, we all had Pizza Hut together, I went for the most Chinese option possible,the” Peking Duck pizza” it was delicious.
After saying goodbyes to our partners we then arrived at the hotel, tired but fascinated with the true wonders of this amazing city, Xi’an.
Yousuf: The first few hours of the day out were spent at my friend Mack’s house where we watched a movie (Johnny English) and also I had the amazing experience of making dumplings which we prepared and ate for lunch. After lunch we left for a shopping centre where we went to a popular tea shop and an arcade; both of which were great fun. To end the day we went to a restaurant to eat and had a lovely meal before we arrived back at the hotel. Easily one of the best days of this trip.
Yusuf: We first went to the Bell tower and went inside to learn about its history and the architecture. We took lots of pictures and really enjoyed the view. We then moved onto the Muslim area of Xi an and walked along the whole street trying out many new foods and drinks. We also visited a mosque where I was able to talk to religious Chinese people. Finally we went to a arcade centre where we played room escape and had lots of fun. We returned back to my partners house where we enjoyed a huge feast and watched a film together.
Matas: We first drove around town and took some good pictures whilst also trying some tropical drinks.we later drove to my partners house and collected some things and drove to the mall where we ate hot pot which was delicious. Furthermore we watched skyscraper in 3D. And they topped of the day with 2 hours of playing basketball against the Chinese.
Nathan: we met up in a group as it was easier for them. Then we went to the Muslim Quarters and ate food, they didn’t let us pay and treated us to a lot of things. Communication wasn’t a problem as they knew the basics and had a translator. We went to a shopping centre and walking around then we went to the cinema. The day overall was amazing and was a good opportunity to practice your Chinese
Fathima: The day started with us going to the Small Pagoda. Then we went to a museum. Then we took the subway and went to their house. Then we went to the movies and watched ‘Animal World’ in 3D. Then we done some shopping and came back. It was a very fun day.
Kareemah: we started the day off by meeting up with our Chinese peers and greeted them along with there family members, they were all really well ,mannered and caring. We first went to a shopping mall and bought souvenirs and gifts, after that we ate kfc they ensured that the food was suitable to our likings, we then went to the cinemas to watch a movie called skyscraper which was very interesting, after that we ate dinner in Pizza Hut, we visited the Muslim quarters of China which was very interesting and provided me with clear insight about different cultures in China, it also benefitted me as the food was halal and very tasty. After that we went back to the hotel and exchanged gifts and said our last goodbyes, overall it was a very interesting and fun day as we got to explore China by ourselves without teachers.
Amina: we began the day by greeting our family for the day and set off with them to the local market it was a busy place so we made the trip quickly. Next we went to Xi’an park where I was introduced to Chinese black tea which we had with peanuts and sunflower seeds with the watermelon we had from the market and enjoyed the scenery around us. Then we set off to the city wall where we walked around and later had rice noodles for lunch the music and the colours around every corner and turn I looked was mesmerising. After lunch we went to a mall where we went to an arcade and even did some karaoke. Me and lu Liu then went shopping and met back up with her parents for dinner in a steakhouse and then drove back to the hotel where we said our teary goodbyes and exchanged gifts.
Yaseen: The day began with my Chinese friend and his father picking me up from the hotel. From there, we drove to a street restaurant where we sat on the street and ate tofu soup for breakfast. Then we were taken to a museum where we learnt lots about science and history. It was an interactive, educational, and exciting experience. For lunch, we were taken to the Muslim quarter to find somewhere to eat. We ate at a noodles restaurant where they had a wide variety of noodles. Despite the large amount of noodles we were given,and the spiciness of the noodles, I still enjoyed the noodles as they were very nice! The father of my Chinese friend was also very impressed on how well I used chopsticks. In the afternoon, we went to watch Skyscraper in the cinema and we watched it in 4D which was an awesome experience. After that, we had a look around the father’s office of the company he owned. We had a beautiful view as his office was on the highest floor of the building. In the office, me and my partner showed each other some games on the computer and we taught each other how to play. Then we were taken to the fathers shop we he sold furniture. The shop looked very fancy and I enjoyed looking around the shop. To end the day, we returned to the hotel and exchanged presents. We said goodbye for the last time and it was an overall amazing day!
Signing off with the closing ceremony and certificates
Our exchange school partners had treated us very generously during our time with them. And upon completion of a short course and program with the school, they gave us a special memento – an official certificate of exchange completion. It was a true honour to be treated so formally during a summer holiday program. We were also given a small gift.
A cultural highlight- walk, snacks and buying, up the Hui Muslim cultural street
Hey cultural highlight of the city of XÄ«’ÄÂn is the street known as the Muslim cultural street. It was a true hive of activity – with snack vendors and souvenir sellers in equal measure. One could not walk more than 5m without stopping to look at the next store.
Packing up, and time in XÄ«’ÄÂn coming to an end
This city, full and rich in historical discoveries, has hosted us and treated us for a special time during our stay in China this summer, but it is time to move to Beijing now – the capital city. Most memorable of course will be the visit on the first day to see the clay soldiers, and anyone reading this is highly recommended to make a visit there themselves.
Looking forward - what I expect from Beijing, one of the world’s greatest capitals
We are hoping for a great experience with amazing things to look forward to. Beijing being one of the most amazing cities in the world we are all excited to see how it may differ to XI an as well. The Great Wall will. Definitely be something that we are all hoping to enjoy and do not doubt that we will have a good a splendid time. I’m also sure everyone here is also excited to go to the markets and go on a shopping spree in one of he largest markets in the world. We all expect an amazing time there and a once in a life time experience.
Hiking challenge- climbing Cuihuashan Geopark and mountain, and walking through the subzero ice caves
This wasn’t easy, struggling to climb the steep stairs of the cuihaushan mountain, sweat and pain was flooding our bodies. Although our mini expedition to the mountain was painful and tiring, the views of the vast mountains were spectacular and worth the pain. The weather was actually rather cool with a slight breeze of warm air making us enjoy the hike. Reaching the lake,at the top of the mountains we explored the beautiful sub zero ice caves, ice carved between the sharp deadly rocks made our journey an deadly obstacle. Although most of us were drenched In sweat, we all had an magnificent day we would never forget.
Arrival in Beijing, and our next hotel
As we arrived in Beijing we saw the diffference straight away much newer builders with thousands more people. When got on the coach we realised how lucky we were to have the coach and coach driver we had in XÄ«’Än so funny made long journeys halirious. As we were driving to the hotel it was like driving in rush hour at 14:00 in the afternoon. The hotel was amazing it is down this back street in an old wutong with lovely rooms compared to the horrible hotel in Xi’an. Arrival in Beijing it was like being in a different country yet with the same amazing people. Joe
A visit to the Hanban Chinese teaching council offices - interactive activities
We went to visit the Hanban offices and the resources were amazing. They had many interactive activities, as well as the history and background of China and the Hanban institute, it opened our minds to the different cultures China enhances with in its country. The interactive activities brought small groups of friends together allowing us to work together and make new friends, overall it was a very interesting and fun experience, and was definately a highlight of the trip.
Looking back to 2008 - a visit to the Beijing ‘08 Olympic Park
The Olympic Park in Beijing was an amazing place with fantastic buildings and architecture. If was an absolutely huge place with so much space and so many people. The Birds Nest was truly stunning and breath taking to look at. there was so much culture and colour around every corner.
A ‘real hero’ in Chairman Mao’s words - we did it, we climbed the Great Wall of China
Yes that’s right we’re the real heroes, the seven kings students that successfully climbed the Great Wall of China! To say th least, it was an amazing achievement filled with stunning views and a good workout. Although it was packed with many tourists from all over the world, the queues were quite short. My favourite part was the toboggan ride on the way down because my friends I went full speed on the slide and it was very fun. We took some great pictures and I’m so happy finally cross the Great Wall of China off my bucket list.
Pacing through history - steps over Tiananmen Square, and walking under Mao’s gaze to enter the forbidden city...
As I climbed the steps over Tiananmen Square, I was astonished to see the amount of security guards patrolling the area, standing as still as statues. It showed us the importance of the forbidden city to the Chinese people. The first pagoda had a gigantic portrait of the chairman Mao which portrayed his significance and the respect Chinese people have for him. Later, as we travelled through the forbidden city we came across many old style palace and royal buildings. It was a true walk through history. Nyrah.
Final words from Beijing. Home here we come!
It has been a fun- and info-filled two weeks. Historical, educational and cultural. We have been treated generously and with warmth at every turn. We are indebted to our hosting organiser, Shang, and his team.
Mr Ferraby and Mrs Handley add, all pupils have learnt and grown from the experience and we are proud. Bring on China 2019! Thank you for reading.