Beijing - Final Goodbyes
Last day, where did the time go?
It seems only yesterday that we arrived in Beijing, and crossing the outside lanes of bike and tuk-tuk traffic was foreign, eating with chopsticks was a challenge, and receiving a wake up call in our own hotel room was a novelty. Yet here we are, eight days later and it all seems so normal.
This morning’s task was to get the suitcases sorted, making sure precious cargo was safely tucked into the middle and that necessities were out for the last day and night in China. We then paid one last visit to the Pearl Market to try and use up the last few remaining yuan. On this our third visit, we were now well known to many of the stallholders, so we took the opportunity to thank them for their patience and good spirit in bartering with us by performing our haka and singing our Chinese songs on the various floors. This was warmly received, and we left smiles behind as well as on our own faces.
Back to the hotel and into the pool for one last swim, before showers and into mufti for our trip to the Chinese Acrobat Theatre. Many new purchases were worn for the special occasion and the students enjoyed ‘dressing up’ for our last night in Beijing.
The performance was an hour-long variety show of the most amazing feats of strength, agility, gymnastics and balance. The motorcycle finale item will surely be a highlight for many of the students to share on their return. Definitely one act not to try at home! There were acrobats as young as 13, and other more mature performers. One boy was heard to remark, “Some looked the same age as my Dad, and were still so flexible!”
After the show, we were invited on stage and introduced to a few of the performers. It was a tremendous finish to our time in China, and will be just one more incredible memory that the children bring home.
When encouraging the children to reflect on their time here, to consider what they thought China was going to be like and what they have now come to think for themselves, we have received some very insightful comments.
“I thought it was going to be dirty and polluted, but I haven’t seen any rubbish or graffiti since I’ve been here, and we have had amazing weather.”
“The mix of very old and very new is pretty cool in Beijing.”
“I was nervous about how many people there might be, but everyone has been friendly and smiling at us. There have been busy places, but it is well organised.”
This has been a terrific introduction to more independent traveling and to China for all our troupe, and will have broadened their horizons significantly.
The future of the Asia-Pacific is on the cusp of some incredible growth and innovative opportunities. Introducing our students to China first-hand at this age enables them to feel a part of this incredible region, that it is no longer the Far East but the Near North, and that they are more comfortable with establishing relationships across the Pacific.