What an explosive week.
From the chaos of departure flights, arrival times, and the group orientation, it’s been an absolute blast. This is Theodore Grice, reporting on the first week of group activities, exploration and most importantly, adventure.
So let’s begin with the first meetings. The group was rounded up at the Bei jing airport by our three Instructors. Joe, Shuier and Gong corralled this teenage tumble and directed us to our first transit in China. A two hour bus trip (with some traffic) and we arrived excited and ready in a small village where we would be staying for the next four days. Our comfy and close knit home was given to us graciously by Kou “Da Ge” (“Older Brother Kou”), a very friendly and firm local farmer. The blistering sun of the hot days and the icy cold nights were made infinitely more bare able by his hospitality. Over the course of the next four days the group made three hikes up to the great wall, which dominated the horizon in all its splendor. Damaged as it was, this Journalist has never seen anything quite like it.
A series of group bonding activities were sprinkled in between which helped disperse the unfamiliarity of the situation we were in. Another nod goes towards our three instructors for being brilliant, intelligent and friendly people. A night time hike up a grassy path was a highlight moment when we peaked up onto the wall in the lovely and refreshing cold air. The day before had a hectic yet fun filled day of dumpling preparation and basketball. This author feels it necessary to establish on the record that Instructor Gong is an animal on the court.
So with all that in mind, the group wrapped up our first days with warm smiles and fond farewells as we bused our way back to Beijing.
Once our feet hit the ground, our next home was established as a local hostel. We all quickly found out that inner city Beijing wasn’t as warm and cozy as the country side, but never the less we adapted and began to explore. Delving into the city further, our two day stay took us through a loop of the Summer Palace in all its splendor, Tiananmen square, the National Museum and a fantastic view of The Forbidden City. Furthermore, the food was nothing short of fantastic. A group acknowledgement goes out to the Peking Duck, of which we ate four.
Sated appetites ceased for the early morning transition to Xi’an. This would be because of the VERY early morning train ride that we would be taking. At 6 in the morning (following a 5 AM wake-up call), the group made our way on a 5-6 hour trip across smog filled countryside. A depressing sight to see, but this was muted by our arrival at a bustling city, and spacious hotel rooms.
Xi’an would see the first use of the group’s judgement on our daily activities and would serve as a small trial run for the X-phase that we will be embarking on later in the course. Group leadership determined another early rise to see the Terracotta Warriors. One heavy headache made it impossible for yours truly to attend, but I have been informed that they were in no less words fantastic, yet pricy. Inter-placed between all these activities and sights has been a multitude of energetic night markets, local monuments, and one hell of a bike race around the Xi’an wall. Sadly I was only able to claim second place with my partner on a tandem bike.
So that leads me to this very moment, where I’m sitting in my incredibly comfortable hotel room waiting for the shower to be available. I would like to thank all the members of the group for being fantastic and inquisitive people, motivators and thrill seekers. Personally, this trip has been so good so far and it only seems to get better.
Theodore Grice, the weekly Journalist, signing off.