The Chinese Language and Culture Centre (CLC) organised a four day trip to Chengdu and Xi’an starting on 23 November and ending 26 November. This trip was available to Chinese language learners and 10 people signed up, including eight foreign interns, one English language teacher and one staff member from the administration office. Associate Professor of the CLC, Dr Jenny Cui as well as CLC lecturer, Ms Cai Jingjing and CLC instructor, Ms Wang Wenqian led the group on this trip.

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Chengdu: Glad to meet you, pandas and more!

It was an early start as everyone gathered at 7:30 a.m. to take the bus to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport to fly to the first destination, Chengdu. The first stop in Chengdu was Broad and Narrow Alley. Being on the list of Chengdu Historical and Cultural Protection Projects, Broad and Narrow Alley is composed of a broad street and a narrow street along with side streets, among which there are many traditional courtyards. After a Hot Pot dinner, the group got to taste tea from the covered-bowl tea set, which consists of ‘lid, bowl, and tray’, as well as enjoying the Face Changing of Sichuan Opera, a hand shadow performance, puppet show as well as an amusing act that showed the Sichuan berating of the gambling husband by the dominant wife.

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Chengdu Hot Pot

Sichuan Opera

On the second day, the group started early and went to the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. It is known as ‘The Family of Pandas’ and has been upgraded to an AAAA Level Scenic Area. Everyone got up close to observe the giant pandas of different ages as the pandas slept, ate, and played with each other.

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Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

In the afternoon, the group took a bus ride to see the Leshan Giant Buddha. The Buddha statue measures 71m in height, which makes it the tallest carved-stone statue of Maitreya in the world. Some of the foreign interns visited the Buddha temple near the Leshan Giant Buddha. After a couple of hours of observing the scenic areas of Leshan, the group headed to catch the overnight sleeper train to Xi’an. The group shared a carriage with six beds per section. For the majority of non-Chinese members of the group, this was their first time sleeping on an overnight train.

Leshan Giant Buddha

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Xi’an: “A journey through time”

Ten hours later, the train pulled into Xi’an train station on a cold Saturday morning. After breakfast, the group left for the Xi’an city wall. The wall was built during the Ming dynasty and is regarded as the most complete and the best-preserved city wall in China. Some of the group chose to walk along the wall while others opted to hire bicycles to see a bit more of it during their visit. Afterwards, the group went to watch the Shaanxi Shadow play performance, a traditional folk art, the origin of which can be traced back to 2000 years ago.

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Xi'an Wall

Shadow Puppets

Later on, the group went to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Square. The Pagoda is a well-preserved ancient building as well as a holy place for Buddhists. Outside of the pagoda, the group watched the largest musical fountain in Asia at the square. Then the group viewed the Bell tower on the bus tour as well as spending free time in the Muslim quarter of the city, which is a combination of streets, shops and food stalls that offer a delicious taste of Muslim culture.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Square

Lots of food in the Muslim quarter

Many of the students liked this kind of bread

After breakfast, on the final day, the group left to go and visit the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. The museum is China's largest ancient military museum. In 1987, the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Warriors were approved as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and are now known as "The Eighth Wonder of the World". After taking in the history of the Terracotta Warriors, the group headed back to the airport to travel safely back to Zhuhai.

Terracotta Warriors

Participants: “A great experience”

A foreign intern in the English Language Centre (ELC), Ms Marissa Furney, said “I thought the trip was evenly balanced between the freedom to walk around and experience the local life and learning about the important history behind the cities and monuments.” She also mentioned that visiting Xi’an was her favourite part of the trip because she loved both walking through the city streets and seeing the Terracotta Warriors.

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English Language Centre (ELC) and Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) Lecturer, Mr Edward Martin, explained that this trip felt like a journey through time, alternating between wading through alleys of the present and visiting ancient historical sites. “In Xi'an, the Terracotta Army gazed up at us from millennia deep in the past. Panda preservation efforts in Chengdu reminded me that we have not inherited the Earth from our fathers; we have borrowed it from our children”. Mr Martin looks forward to more opportunities to further explore China under the leadership of the CLC's expert guides.

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A foreign intern in the General Education Office (GEO), Ms Gemma Barnes said that she had a great time on the trip as she got to see a good mix of modern and traditional China. “The fact that we were able to visit two very different provinces also made the trip a great experience. And best of all, the food was delicious!” explained Ms Barnes.

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Associate Professor of the Chinese Language and Culture Centre (CLC), Dr Jenny Cui, when asked why she chose these places for the trip said “The pandas and the Terracotta Warriors are treasures for the Chinese, and they are also treasures for people around the world”. As China has a well-known long history, Dr Cui hoped that the group could observe the combination of ancient China and contemporary China, which included watching the musical fountain show at the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Square in Xi’an. “Of course, they should also have the opportunity to try local snacks and cuisine, which are “A bite of China” Dr Cui added.

Reporter: Samuel Burgess (MPRO)
Photographers: Wang Wenqian (CLC)
Editors: Deen He, Samantha Burns (MPRO)
(with special thanks to the ELC)