Chengde and The Great Wall

#1 The Night Market

Going to Chengde, we had the amazing experience of meeting our host families who shed a light as to what the urban Chinese life is like. It was very eye opening as we adjusted to their normal schedules. One of the highlights that anyone from our group who went would say they loved, was the local Night Market. Numerous families opted to take us to the market at least once during our week long stay. It provided a diverse array of stalls offering anything from food to shoes to a mobile nail salon. It was interesting to see that the market brought out many different types of people, especially foreigners. Our host families shared with us that it was a popular place to purchase cheap items. On the second to last night many of us took advantage of the prices and went in groups back to the market. Overall, it was a great experience and a bonding moment for many of the families as well as an everlasting memory for many of the group members.

#2 Local Kindergarten

During this week, our group went to a local kindergarten to meet the children at the school and learn with them. The day started with a series of performances from the kids. These impressive acts ranged from dancing to singing and reading. As a surprise for the students, we also performed; the highlights were a beautiful song sang by Stella Oh and our group cha cha slide dance. After, we all gathered in their classrooms and we got to learn with them and draw on either plates or fans. This day was an incredible experience that allowed us to learn about Chinese culture in the school system. It was also a memorable experience because of the impressive performances and the time that we got to spend with the children.

#3 Hammerhead Mountain

The hike up Hammerhead mountain was definitely a rewarding one. Even though the day was hot and the sun was bright, the group managed to make it up the entire mountain with little complaint. The view of the rock heading up was something that was unique to all of us. When we finally reached the top, all of the city of Chengde was visible. It was an especially cool sight because it seemed almost impossible that a boulder of its size and narrowness could stay standing for all of Chengde to see. We were happy to have made it to the top, and to enjoy all the ice cream that we bought as rewards for ourselves.

#4 The Great Wall

Climbing the great wall? A++ experience. We started with a bus ride to the location; about 45 minutes of snacks and naps. Then, a rest stop at the bottom of the trail. But, may I pause a moment to appreciate the bathroom. This bathroom was sparkling. This bathroom was so clean it squeaked. Upon entry into said bathroom, a magnitude of people sang their praises: “how clean!”, “A standing toilet!”, And best of all, “toilet paper!” This amazing bathroom encounter filled our group with a proud sense of ambition. We were ready, we were strong, we were determined.

We walked outside, and there, waiting for us, was two golf cart-esque vehicles. We nearly cried. This was too good to be true; would these mighty steeds really take us all the way to the base of the trail? We clamored inside the cars and drove at a breakneck speed of 15 miles per hour up, up, u–oh no, we’re stopping. It was, apparently, too good to be true. Instead, we walked by a line of Chinese merchants doing their absolute best to garner our attention. Their shouts of ‘hello’ rang in our ears as we went on.

We continued to walk past a hotel, a statue, and a small shopping center. Finally, we were at the base of the trail. Another 10 minutes, and we were at the base of the trail. Wait, what? Base of the trail, again? I thought we just walked past that? No, this was merely a new trail, a longer trail, a steeper trail. A trail that would finally take us to the Great Wall.

We hiked for another ten minutes. We complained for a solid eleven of those.

We were on the Great Wall, yes, true. But, ‘it’s so hot’ , and ‘my legs hurt’ , and ‘ew, is that a bug’, and ‘I’m hungry’ .

Another ten minutes go by. Then another, and another. My phone is beeping, alarmed. It presents to me, as if it were surprised: “you’ve beat your daily goal of 10,000 steps!”

We finally stop to rest and eat our lunches. After some food, we can really appreciate the view. We look out on both sides, feeling tiny and insignificant. We look up and feel grateful that it’s overcast. And, we look down and are reminded that we are so strong, because look how far we’ve come.

Bloggers: Maya, Alec, Taylor, Vivian