Wednesday 12 Sep, 2012

10 Highlights of a Student Tour to China

Cassandra Lund is a very experienced traveler with EF Tours, this trip to China marks her 15th EF Tour.  Read the highlights from her adventurous and memorable tour!

1. The Forbidden City
One of our first stops in China and Beijing was the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was a huge and ornate place. There were many buildings to explore, as well as this beautiful river. The Forbidden City was a great way to start our tour because it gave our group some insight into Chinese architecture, culture and history. During our time here, we learned the importance of the Forbidden City to the emperor and his concubines.

Forbidden City - China

The Forbidden City

2. The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall amazed everyone in our group, we were combined with Texans, French-Canadians and our Pennsylvania group. The Great Wall is very famous and I was afraid that my imagination would exceed the beauty, but I was completely wrong. The Great Wall is huge and very difficult to walk on because of the crowd and steep inclines. I had to imagine how hard it was to be built, especially centuries ago with limited technology.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

3. Olympic Bird’s Nest
Our tour guide, Lillian, told us that Beijing was chosen over other major cities in China, and were very honored to host the Summer Olympics in 2008. The Bird’s Nest was at the center of Beijing’s Olympic arena. The building was also encircled by a small river called “Dragon River”. The Olympic buildings were amazing and helped get our group excited for the 2012 Olympics that were only a few weeks away at the time.

The Olympic Bird's Nest - Beijing, China

The Olympic Bird’s Nest

4. Riding in a Rickshaw
While in Beijing, our group took a Rickshaw ride around the Hutong District. The Hutong District is one of the oldest parts of Beijing and still has the old style architecture. The houses in the Hutong District are very close together and we got to enjoy dinner with a local family! Our Rickshaw driver rode us to a house in the district where we had dinner and sat in their dining room to enjoy an amazing meal. This meal was many people’s favorite of the trip.

Riding in a Rickshaw in China

Riding in a Rickshaw

5. Terracotta Warriors
The Terracotta Warriors were one of the things I was most excited to see in China. A documentary on TV got me very excited for this experience and to learn more about these fascinating world treasures. After a plane ride to Xi’an, we went to the museum where the soldiers were on display. The museum is still being excavated, as are more soldiers and their body parts. It was incredible to see a museum still in the works and pieces of history being dug out before our eyes.

Terracotta Warriors Museum

Terracotta Warriors Museum

6. Acrobats show
After our short stop in Xi’an we were on our way to Shanghai. We spent our first night in Shanghai with dinner and then an acrobats show afterwards. This show displayed Chinese acrobats doing stunts and tricks with their bodies, pushing themselves to great limits. The act pictured is of acrobats spinning several plates all while stacking themselves on top of each other!

Acrobat Show in Shanghai

Acrobat Show in Shanghai

7. Amazing view of Shanghai
In Shanghai we went up to the very top of one of the largest buildings in the world- The Shanghai World Financial Center. There are 100 stories in this building and our group went all the way up to the top. This is the view from the top of the building on a clear day. While up in the WFC we saw men working on the windows of the building in a shakey contraption. I was nervous on the inside of the glass windows and I could not imagine how they did it!

View from the Shanghai World Financial Center - China

View from the Shanghai World Financial Center

8. The Bund in Shanghai
The Bund refers to this waterfront area and the beautiful view of the skyscrapers of Shanghai. We also got to see a similar view at night but I thought it was more spectacular in the daylight. I found it amazing that all these buildings were so close together and so different. Since seeing The Bund, it has become one of my favorite views in the world!

The Bund in Shanghai

The Bund

9. Extension trip to Hong Kong
Our group decided to do the extension to Hong Kong before the trip began and we were very glad we did! Hong Kong was like China but felt slightly more Western in it’s culture. We felt more comfortable with the culture in Hong Kong because it was something we were more familiar with. This picture is of the large section of house boats in the river that we saw from a Sampan. The way our boat driver steered through the houses was amazing!

near Hong Kong markets

Visiting Hong Kong

10. Ladies Market
My favorite part of Hong Kong was the market’s that we visited. We went to Stanley Market and the Ladies’ Market. Pictured is right outside of the Ladies’ Market near the “hip” part of town. The amount of signs and businesses in this area was insane. Hong Kong has many skyscrapers because there is little land left to build on. Everything has been built up because people love it there and want to live and work there! The skyscrapers in Hong Kong are like nothing else in the world.

Ladies Market

Cassandra Lund(Editors Note: Cassandra Lund has traveled on more than 15 EF Tours and has more planned through 2013.  Lund will graduate in 2012 with a Magazine Journalism Major at Temple University in Philadelphia.)