May 30, 2013

Nanjing & Huangshan Spring Trip

Each year the school takes students on a Chinese tour to learn more about our host country. This was my first time on a spring trip, but having been on Chinese tours before I was prepared for anything. At least so I thought.

The trip began with 24 hours on the train to Nanjing marking the longest I've been on a train in China. I switched bunks to the very top and gave the students quite the laugh as I hung my feet over the end of the bed into the aisle. The time passed quickly and students really enjoyed this part of the trip as they got to talk with each other and deepen relationships among classmates.

Upon arrival in Nanjing, we immediately went to a local restaurant and then to the hotel to quickly clean up. First impressions of Nanjing, it's stickin hot. I took a shower only to immediately begin sweating. We then toured the Republic of China's President’s Office. This museum houses the history of China from about 1911-1949 during the Republic years after the fall of the emperor.

We transferred to Huangshan by bus over five hours on mostly paved roads. After eating lunch we were completely surprised to learn that our Huangshan hotel was at the top of the mountain 10 km (6 miles) from where the cable car stops. We were completely unprepared for this. Guess I should have known to ask the travel company where our hotels were. I just assumed (big mistake) that the bus would take us to the front door of our hotels.

After counting the number of students with backpacks, we spent considerable time in the parking lot unpacking and repacking our luggage and backpacks to make the 10 km trek up the mountain. If only we'd known this information before the trip so that we could have packed accordingly. We did make it to the top of the mountain to our hotel in time to take a shower during the three hour window of available hot water.

The morning began with more stairs. By now everyone was tired of climbing up and down mountains. We split the groups to offer tired students the chance to not climb to the last observation point. I did make it to the top. Man that was a lot of stairs. All tired out, most slept on the bus back to Nanjing.

We visited two sites in Nanjing, neither of which the tour guide explained much about so I'm left with only what I've learned previously about the sites or read on the propaganda displays. Purple Mountain (or Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s tomb) seemed like a cake walk compared the the stairs we climbed at Huangshan. 392 stairs later, we were at the top. Next, we visited Yuhua Stage which from the Chinese displays was a museum to remember the Communists who fought bravely against the KMT. What really happened here I don't know because as in all history, the winning side tells the story.

The highlight of the trip for students may well have been when NBA D-league players walked into the airport KFC.

That's it. I survived a Chinese tour and my first spring trip with 18 students. To see more photos from the trip, click here.

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