Visiting the great wall was an unforgettable experience.
The coach journey there was very long, but interesting because we saw how people outside the city lived. As we followed the dusty roads into rural China, there was clearly more poverty; shown by the sheer amount of farming and fewer cars. We finally arrived at the bottom of a steep hill, which was covered in small tourist stalls and a path that lead towards the commanding view of the wall. We had to take a ski-lift to reach the summit, which took us directly to the fortress, and opened out onto some breath-taking scenes.
When you reach the base of the wall, the first thing we noticed was its height and width (5m), which considering it was started in the 5th century BC, is remarkable even by todays standards. By the time we’d reached the top, if our breath hadn’t been taken away by the climb, it definitely was by the panorama. Me, Kate and Matt even managed to film our mini trek across a tiny stretch of the 31,000 mile giant!
Today was an early start, we arrived at school for half seven, and left immediately for the expo site in the centre of Shanghai. When we arrived, we noticed the huge amount of activity; Mickey (who volunteers at the Expo) told us that at any one time, there are over 400,000 people within the expo complex. The first queue was quite reasonable, but when we made our way in to the centre of this mini-city, each and every pavillion had endless lines of visitors streaming into it, so we realised we would only manage 3 or 4 expositions in the day.
Everybody visited the British and Chinese pavillions, which were interesting and very different, but others included the Canadian, Argentinian, Icelandic and Italian sites, most of which thankfully had some air conditioning! The expo area is packed with a real variety of nationalities, languages and experiences, and although it was an incredibly hot and long day, we really enjoyed ourselves and managed to pick up a hai bao stopwatch, deck of cards and cuddly toy…
In the morning, we took some lessons at Changzheng school. We started with a paper-cutting competition and ended with a useful tutorial on drawing faces. After playing some basketball, we went by coach to Tian Zi Fang, a bustling market town surrounding a daoist temple site. There were some very interesting shops, stalls and sights – my best bit was the twisting bridge that ran through the center of TZF, although it was too crowded to cross! After returning back to school, the exchanges and their partners went home to rest a bit, before returning to the mall for some heated snooker matches. Today was one of my favourite days!
We started the day today with two lessons at Changzheng, the first on Chinese language and everyday conversations (which covered the free market and directions to the toilet!) and then the school’s art teacher showed us how to paint some authentic bamboo pictures. They were all quite good, but mine was described as a ‘masterpiece’…
We then travelled by bus to the museum where we explored some exhibitions on jade and ancient pottery, did you know for example that the Chinese have revered jade since Neolithic times. Archeological data shows that the ancient Chinese were using nephrite jade to make ornaments and weapons between 7000 and 8000 years ago. According to an ancient Chinese proverb: “You can put a price on gold, but jade is priceless.”
After our visit to the museum, we briefly stopped by a high-end marketplace which was a big contrast with the other markets we had been to. Everything was quite expensive, so instead of shopping we enjoyed the strange performance of Korean dance in the main square.