From Friday 10th to Saturday 18th February I was part of the Economics, Business and Sociology trip to China. Following a 14-hour flight (with a stopover in Dubai), we arrived in Beijing. The next morning we were up early taking in the many sights Beijing has to offer. Our first stop was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City – both historical landmarks. It was eye-opening to see them. Many of the tourists in Beijing are from the rural parts of China, so they had never seen English people before and many wanted to take photographs with us. This was a strange experience, rather like being a celebrity.
Contrary to popular belief, the food in Beijing is not what you would find at your local Chinese takeaway. I had no idea what I was eating half the time, but it was delicious.
For me, the highlight of the trip was the Great Wall of China; it definitely lives up to its reputation. I also enjoyed visiting the Llama Temple. It was fascinating to learn about Buddhism and I was very impressed with the giant Buddha statue.
After four days in Beijing we boarded the bullet train to Shanghai. We travelled over 800 miles in five hours. Shanghai is a stunning city and we were lucky enough to see it from up high, at the Jinmao Tower, as well as at night on our evening river cruise.
The Volkswagen factory we visited provided a more academic side to the trip as we saw production techniques and quality control first hand.
Finally, we visited Zhujiajiao water town. This is the best preserved historic town near Shanghai and I really enjoyed exploring its little shops. The town allowed us a more traditional experience of China than that found in the cities. The water town’s canal-lined streets bear a resemblance to Venice, but the food and atmosphere were unlike anything found in the West.