“Students from different locations (Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray) started to greet each other with big broad smiles at Vancouver’s international airport. Excitement levels were shooting up for our international study tour to China, with the first destination to Beijing!!
Our flight was on time, there was no issue with our reservations or visas which made everyone’s boarding a pleasure. On the plane, some slept well while others wandered in the aisles. The friendly crew of Air Canada landed all of us in Beijing safely and on time.
“Wow! That’s big!” was the common expression of those seeing the Beijing international airport for the first time. There was lots of walking before we could hit the immigration counters. “Where are the 1.4 billion people?” was my question at the counters. There were over 10 well-staffed counters and no queue ups – less than 5 minutes and we were all clear to enter China. We boarded a train that took us to the baggage claim belts. No one lost any of their checked-in bags or received damaged baggage. Some rushed to the communication counter to buy local SIM cards to have their cell phones working. We all headed out of the terminal building by the friendly customs staff.
Lisa, our tour guide in Beijing greeted us near the exits. Some of us withdrew local currency at the ATM machine – with no complaints of “debit cards not working” We all headed towards the bus with few of us having challenges of crossing the road as “pedestrians do not have right of way”.
An air conditioned full size bus drove us towards our hotel and on the way Lisa enriched us with tons of information about China, Beijing and its culture.
We all checked in quickly since we had only 40 minutes to freshen up and be back at reception for our first exploration journey to the famous Silk Market. On the bus Jayne shared a price guideline sheet which had the best negotiated prices from the previous years. Now mentally we are set for negotiation shopping!! Do not be limited by the name as the Silk Market not only sells silks but also pearls, shoes, clothes and it had an Apple and Samsung store as well. First we decided to go for dinner and Lisa’s local experience became handy in choosing the restaurant. We went to a buffet on top floor and we all enjoyed our first meal of the tour and headed straight for shopping without wasting much time.
The market closes at 9, so getting everyone back on the bus on time was no challenge. We all returned to hotel around ten, headed to our rooms with a promise to return to the lobby at 7:30AM the next day for breakfast. It sounded too early after a long journey and going to bed late but Edy’s confidence about jet lag proved to be right when half of us were at the lobby at 5 AM the next day. Day 2 was set for a Beijing city tour – The Forbidden City, The Great Wall of China and many more exciting adventures. Follow us to share the excitement!”
The blogging for the China Study Tour has been initially kicked off by Inderpal Dhillon, Fangwei Xu and Tahir Yousaf.