Beijing - The Great Wall of China
You know it’s going to be a good day when you can choose chicken nuggets and chocolate covered doughnuts for breakfast. And so it was on Day 3, as the children fuelled up for the big day ahead.
With a couple of hours on the bus to start, the students were challenged to ‘Open their minds for Quiz Time’. Points were on offer for fun facts from yesterday and a few to prepare them for the sites on the agenda for the day. Mrs Yang’s ‘double point’ challenge questions proved a hit, with terrific Mandarin skills coming to the fore from many of the students.
Views out of the bus windows drew comments of how green Beijing is, with beautiful mature trees lining all the major roads and lush waterside gardens – not what most of the children were expecting. They will be coming back to Kristin with a few good ideas for Michelle and her crew, after admiring many impressive topiary specimens and formal gardens today.
As we moved north away from the centre of Beijing, the forest covered mountains seemed to spring up from nowhere and we could easily have been back in New Zealand. A light drizzle did not dampen our spirits or enthusiasm for the steep climb up the Juyong Pass section of The Great Wall of China. Up, up and more up we went, with sections of 80°. It is difficult to photograph the gradient and do it justice! By the time we were just over halfway up, the misty cloud lifted and we were treated to a fabulous panorama of the mountains and valleys of the Changping District.
We reached the 13th Watch Tower, 620 metres up, and were ready to celebrate with our Kristin Haka. The platform became a spontaneous stage as we joined a university student group from the Beijing School of Dance. We shared our Haka and they reciprocated with some amazing freestyle hip hop dances moves. We sang our selection of traditional Chinese songs and became instant stars, swamped with selfie requests for some time afterwards. We met back up with this dynamic group on the way down, and enjoyed their enthusiastic company as our legs were beginning to fatigue.
There were quite a few ‘personal bests’ set today, and the children can be mighty proud of their achievements. It is a strenuous test and there was not one grumble. They supported and encouraged each other, and then relished the feelings of satisfaction that came at the end – one commenting that the smile would not likely leave her face for the rest of the day.
From there we enjoyed a well earned Chinese banquet before heading to the Sacred Way for a late afternoon stroll. 3.5 km of weeping willows bordering a wide walkway, where the late Emperors were carried on their way to the mausoleum for burial. 18 marble statues line the way, paying respect to the journey of the Emperor – lion, elephant, camel, horse and others that represent royal qualities. Each carved from a single stone over 500 years ago, the students marvelled at the skill required to achieve such a fantastic likeness and the history that was evident in this special place. The low light of the afternoon sun made for beautiful photographs and a lovely way to bring our excursion to an end for the day.