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Temple of Heaven/Summer Palace

Day 8 of our school trip to China involved a visit to both the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace.

A large park is adjacent to the Temple of Heaven. As it was still early morning, the older Chinese people were using the exercise park, singing in groups and generally enjoying the outdoors. Students joined them on the exercise equipment.

In another part of the park, we were fascinated to see what appeared to be a dating service. Parents were patiently filling in the morning with a photograph, the age and other details of their son or daughter. The details were on paper laid in front of them. The crowd would walk through perusing the information with parents hoping that one of them would be a future match for their child.

A short walk took us to the entry of the Temple of Heaven – another fascinating site of historical significance. Ming and Qing Emporers would worship their god and pray for a good harvest. This is an interesting site that should be on any itinerary if visiting Beijing.

The Summer Palace is another beautiful historical site and one of my personal favourites. As the Empress would spend summer here, it is more ornate and colourful than the Forbidden City. The lake, the beautiful gardens, ornate buildings, marble boat and the ornate long corridor mean that its beauty leaves a lasting impression in visitors’ minds.

Prior to the visit to the Summer Palace, it is the usual custom of tour guides to try to get tourists to visit a silk factory. First an explanation and demonstration of where silk comes from, then on to the factory floor to tempt us to purchase silk quilts or other silk apparel.





Day 7 China -The Great Wall

me good one.jpg

Day 6 in Beijing involved a visit to the Great Wall of China – always a highlight of any tour of China and an essential part of an itinerary. Our tour guide took us to Mutianyu entry point. The wall is set in picturesque mountainous country but is a steep climb.


The students and some adults made the climb to the wall but there was a cable car to take the adults who were not so fit to the wall. The option of a toboggan ride down appealed to the students but unfortunately, rain forced that activity to be closed. It is certainly awe inspiring to look at the nature of and the great length of the wall from the many guard towers. Tower number 1 was the furthest point that could be walked to as it then reverted to the original and wild wall.

Lunch was in a restaurant near the bus carpark. It had lovely views down the mountain. The afternoon was spent driving to a traditional tea house and tasting a variety of Chinese teas.


Day 5 School Trip to China

On day 5 of our stay in Beijing, students said farewell to their host families and resumed touring with their teachers and the adult members of our party. We had our own 18 seater bus, complete with driver and Lisa, our tour guide.


The day was hot and humid and our first stop was two of Beijing’s biggest attractions – Tiananmen Square Square and the Forbidden City.


A rickshaw ride through the hutong, a visit to a Chinese home in the hutong and some hard bargaining with determined hawkers selling watches, fans, souvenirs etc completed the afternoon.

Day 4 China Trip

As today marked the start of the Mid-Autumn festival for the Chinese people, it was a public holiday and would be over a 3 day period. Students would spend the full day with host families. This caused even more angst with some than the first night spent with the families. There was no relief from coming to school to be with familiar friends and teachers during the daytime. They had to survive 2 nights and a whole day in a completely different space and culture.

Yet, all enjoyed their time. Some went shopping, some visited tourist attractions, some dined in restaurants and some just stayed home. Several host families combined activities much to the relief of our students.

The adults and Hawkesdale staff were treated to an action packed day tour provided by Beijing no 27 school We were given  a driver and a tour guide for the day and visited the Beijing Museum, walked through the hutong and along the Grand Canal, visited the Drum Tower and heard the drumming demonstrations, visited Peking University and as night fell walked through Olympic Park which was a magnificent sight as darkness fell and the lighting on the buildings came into effect.

The moon was resplendent for the mid-autumn festival.

Lunch was in a local Chinese restaurant where one of our dishes was the traditional Beijing noodles. The evening meal was in another wonderful restaurant featuring Peking Duck amongst many other dishes.

A third day of learning with Beijing no 27


greeting students at the gate.jpgOur last full day at Beijing no 27 started again with breakfast in the school dining hall. Each day two students welcome and monitor people who enter the school.

The Chinese students are extremely studious. Many were studying or completing homework while we waited for breakfast to be served. Many go home at night time and put in a further 3 to 4 hours or more. This was an eye opener for our students.



One of our student’s breakfast trays

Instead of attending classes in the morning, we walked through the hutongs with Therese, the organising staff member, past one of the gates of the Forbidden City and on to Jingshan Park.


The weather was humid and hot but the pollution was thick. Some of us donned masks.


However, the gardens were cooling. It was fascinating to see the older Chinese citizens practicing tai chi, dancing, playing chess, voice shouting, singing, participating in clapping classes etc. Several older people were using water and brushes to write Chinese characters on the pathways.We climbed to the top of the hill to  see the Buddhist temples. A number of students and the adults enjoyed dressing in traditional costumes having their formal pictures taken.

As it was close to 11:00am we returned to the school to have lunch. At the end of lunch, one of the boys brought his hand made drone out into the school yard for students to have a go at flying. This was followed by a calligraphy class. Students were then given a test on their knowledge of Beijing geography, spoken language and chop stick skills.

The principal came in just before the test to bid us a formal farewell and to give our school a special gift – a beautiful handcrafted fan. John and I were taken into her office while students completed their test and again were given individual gifts – tea for John and a beautiful comb for me. On returning to the classroom, each of our students were given a number of gifts and souvenirs of their time in the school. As there are many after school activities, we congregated in the school yard watching students practice marching, fan dances and basketball. It was great to see our students starting to mingle readily with the Chinese students, practicing English, exchanging wechat id’s etc.

As our days came to a close at Beijing no 27, our students finally looked comfortable, mingled readily with the Chinese students, shared wechat id’s etc.


Day 2 at No 27 Beijing School

Day 2 spent at No 27 Beijing school was another day of learning about the Chinese culture and history. It started with breakfast in the Dining Hall, followed by formal classes in our allocated classroom.

Each class had a Chinese teacher and usually an interpreter. The interpreter was one of the Chinese teachers who taught English in the school. The first class of the day was a handicrafts class. Students were taught the importance of and history of Chinese knots. We were then provided with threads, pins, beads and a foam placemat and taught how to tie a variety of knots to produce a bracelet. Examples of beautiful handcrafted Chinese knotting were also displayed.

Martial arts in the playground followed. The weather was warm and humid and these were not easy skills to master. Whilst we were learning, other physical education groups were involved in marching activities in other corners of the playground. Lunch was then provided with a noon break for us. Paper cutting in the art room involved using stencils to cut out shapes. Students were then encouraged to create their own paper cutouts, then to cut out their Chinese birth year animal.

A favourite activity amongst some of the boys was the flight simulator. We were taken to a computer lab where impressive flight simulators were located, together with desktop computers with flight programs on. Most of us kept crashing our planes soon after take off!! One clever student had built his own drone and demonstrated its use.

After school we were treated to Chinese folk music in the auditorium, where we could listen to and see many of the traditional Chinese musical instruments. This was followed by an Evening Reception.






An evening reception


On the second night of our stay at Beijing no 27 school, hosting students, our students and staff, family members and several staff from no 27 were treated to a school evening reception. A number of welcome speeches were made.


The evening was hosted by the Secretary and chaired by Eric, a Mongolian student who also acted as interpreter for us all.

A selection of traditional Chinese musical instruments were demonstrated by skilled Chinese students.


Australian students were able to attempt playing the instruments. An evening banquet meal was enjoyed by us all.