We could hardly believe that it was the last day of our amazing trip to Beijing. After our final buffet breakfast, we participated in morning exercises and games at the park surrounding the Temple of Heaven. There we rotated through traditional Chinese activities: taiji, devil sticks, yoyo, Kungfu, and rope skipping. Afterward, we walked through the park amongst the colorful trees of autumn, passing by many people socializing with card games, knitting, and dancing. We stopped to admire the vibrantly colored Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. This structure, built on three levels of marble stone base, is completely wooden but with no nails! We took advantage of the colorful backdrop by taking some final group photos there.
Our last day in Beijing was soon coming to an end. We spent an hour bargaining for souvenirs in the Pearl Market, then enjoyed a delicious Italian lunch before heading back to the airport. On the buses, we had time to reflect on all of our experiences of the last week, the fun we had together, and our strengthened friendships. Thankfully, our airport check-in and flight were uneventful. We were very happy to land back in Hong Kong to be reunited with our families and share stories, photos, and gifts.
Thank you, everyone, for a great Beijing PEAK trip! Remember to look back for more photos later! We’ll post more as we gather photos from all the leader’s cameras.
Day 4 – “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius
After breakfast, we visited the Yonghe Temple (“Lama Temple”), a monastery for Tibetan Buddhism. As we strolled the grounds with our knowledgeable Wild China guides, we noticed the vivid colors on the ornately painted details of each main hall, the peaceful courtyards with budding trees, and the scent of sandalwood incense in the air. The students’ favorite attraction was the amazing 26m tall statue of Buddha, carved from a single piece of white sandalwood! From there we walked to the Temple of Confucius, with its gnarled and twisting cypress trees. In order to compete in a game of Two Truths and One Lie, each small group became an expert on one section of the compound. Here we saw the halls where Confucian scholars studied, and the giant stone tablets carved with the names of those who passed the Imperial Exam
After lunch, our buses took us to a local market. Each small group was tasked with purchasing produce and tea to bring to the Hutong families that we would be visiting later today. The students used their Mandarin and respectful bargaining skills to collect apples, garlic, corn, spring onions, Chinese figs, and lotus seeds. They all did a fantastic job, and we had a great time learning more about Chinese culture.
Our next adventure was to the lovely Houhai lake area for fun pedicab rides through the Hutongs (alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences). We stopped at a siheyuan to participate in activities taught by the residents. We played shuttlecock, and learned the Chinese art of paper cutting, mask painting, calligraphy, and dough sculptures.
We enjoyed a special pizza dinner at Kro’s Nest and then headed back to the hotel. Finally, back at the hotel, we grabbed our pillows and slippers to enjoy a “Karate Kid” movie night amongst friends, old and new. Tai Tam dyad has grown closer over the few days we’ve been together in Beijing; we’re lucky to have such a kind, clever, and especially FUN group of students!
Today was a biggie. Rising at 7:00 am and off to breakfast to load up prior to our departure towards the Great Wall of China. After a two hour drive, we arrived at the Hexi Village near the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China.
The students visited families within the Hexi village homes where they were shown how to make vegetable dumplings. Each student had the opportunity to make a few dumplings. We were then presented with a great lunch that included the student made dumplings.
Our next stop was the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China. The students climbed and walked for over 3 hours, from the East Tower with Five Holes to Zhuanduo Pass. This meant climbing loads and loads of steep stairs. The sky was a beautiful clear blue and we could see the wall stretching for part of the 6,000 km plus length. We climbed back drown from the wall towards our BBQ dinner.
We then entered a local guest house and enjoyed the prepared BBQ dinner of hot dogs, corn, salad, sweet potato, satay and a little warmth and well deserved rest.
After dinner the kids bargained like professionals as they purchased gifts and souvenirs. The sun had gone, the full moon was out and we had a 2 plus hour drive back to the hotel in Beijing. We boarded the buses, happy for the seats and watched some movies along the way to make the time pass quickly.
The group met briefly and then went back to their rooms to rest and settle down for the night.
We have prepared a later start for tomorrow – receiving morning calls at 7:30am to start another day of adventure.
Woken up at 07:30 by the hotel wake up call system, the Tai Tam groups made their way to a grand buffet breakfast in one of Jen’s restaurants. A fine start to the day. Once loaded up with energy and ready to go, the groups then boarded the buses to head towards Tiananmen Square. Upon arrival we were mildly shocked by the amount of other visitors to the area. The mass of people there led us to wonder how many people could actually fit into the entire Square. After we had crossed Tiananmen Square we entered the Forbidden City. An amazing and very historical environment. Wild China had arranged for the students to run through an interactive challenge at which they were to identify key locations within the city and capture explanatory pictures. I am sure you will get to see the variety of images that were taken at these challenges. Quite the opportunity for creative photography 🙂
Exiting the Forbidden City through the North gate, we re-boarded the buses and set off to enjoy a Beijing Duck lunch at the Huajiayiyuan. There was quite a lot of talk about how much we had to walk within the Forbidden City. A surprisingly vast location.
Next stop was the Huiling Center. The students enjoyed the performances provided by the Huiling Center community, particularly Michael’s rendition of Beat it. They responded with a few musical treats from the HKIS Tai Tam group. Lots of singing and dancing and smiling. Once the singing and dancing had calmed the groups participated in some craft work, including friendship bracelets and key chains.
On route to the Hotel we stopped off for great dinner at Sanhelou. Once at the Hotel the students met in small groups to debrief the events of the day, call home and then went off to bed.
The students will rise at 7:00 am in preparation for a trip to the Great Wall in the morning.
Here we are, arrived safely in Beijing and currently settled into the Jen Upper East Hotel. The plane trip from Hong Kong was a breeze. The kids were excited to start the journey and everyone looked out for each other along the way. Upon arrival at Beijing airport the movement of Tam Tam through immigration was hassle free with kids enthusiastic about being in China. After an easy immigration process, we were met by Wild China guides and shepherded onto two buses. The five Tai Tam small groups headed off for our first stop- the Chaoyang Theatre to watch the spectacular acrobatic show. Crunching on popcorn the kids were amazed at the performances. The 8 motorbikes cyclically zooming around a round cage was a favorite by all. Next stop was dinner at the Nanjing Impressions restaurant. We feasted on a variety of Chinese dishes in a great environment. From there we were back on the buses and off to the hotel to check in. Once checked in we had a brief group meeting to outline tomorrow’s schedule and went off to settle into our rooms for the night. The kids are all happy, safe and sleepy!