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China Trip Journal

Day 9 - China/Seattle

posted Apr 6, 2013, 9:49 PM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Apr 6, 2013, 9:49 PM ]


As you may already know, 26 of our group arrive in Calgary this evening, and the other 24 (20 students, 4 chaperones including myself) have stayed in Seattle overnight and will return tomorrow Sunday April 8 - Alaska Airlines 2116, ETA 11:54 am.

Those of us who stayed in Seattle checked in to our hotel around 2:30 pm Seattle time, and it's very close to the airport.  

We have a kind shuttle bus driver who has been driving us and picking us up from the nearby monorail station.  As a group we took the monorail into downtown Seattle and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  

Then we went walking by nearby Pike Place Market (although by this time most stores were closed) and many of us enjoyed a coffee and some souvenir mugs from the 1st site of Starbucks Coffee.  

We walked a little at the close by waterfront, did a little shopping at the department stores, and have finally returned to our hotel.  

We depart early tomorrow, but are very much looking forward to being reunited with family and friends back home.

A huge thanks to you as parents for all your support, work and assistance in helping your sons/daughters to make it to China.  I'm sure many if not all of them found it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Diego Bechthold

Saturday Arrival AS2118 - 6:40pm

posted Apr 6, 2013, 4:39 PM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Apr 6, 2013, 4:40 PM ]

Looks like they got delayed leaving Seattle, YYC is showing arrive of AS2118 at 6:40pm.

Day 8 - April 5

posted Apr 5, 2013, 8:27 AM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Apr 5, 2013, 8:27 AM ]

Ni hao for the last time,

Today was our official last day here in China - tomorrow we fly from Xi-an to Beijing, then Beijing to Seattle - then for 26 of us, Seattle to Calgary on Saturday and for the other 25, Seattle to Calgary on Sunday.  The first flight returning to Calgary on Saturday is Alaska Airlines AS 2118, ETA 6:05 pm Saturday April 7.  The second flight returning on Sunday to Calgary is Alaska Airlines 2116, ETA 11:54 am.  See flight details here.

Today was a long but eventful and adventurous day.  We left early this morning and visited the 8th Wonder of the World - the Terra-Cotta Warriors.  Simply stunning.  Over 2200 years old, over 7000 of them, and each one completely individual in appearance.  

In the afternoon many of us enjoyed a 8.5 mile perimeter bike ride on top of the ancient city wall (around 1, 300 years old) and then visited an ancient cultural street and learned Chinese calligraphy.  

We ended our evening by celebrating two of our female students' 16th birthday (one was today, the other's is tomorrow) in one of our hotel rooms, with birthday cake and lotus candles.  

Tomorrow will be a long return trip, but we have certainly enjoyed our time together and our memorable experiences in Beijing and Xi-an, China.  It's been "ding ding hao"!

Bye for now.

Diego Bechthold

Day 7 - April 4

posted Apr 4, 2013, 6:59 AM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Apr 4, 2013, 7:12 AM ]

We're beginning to wind up our China trip with our present day in Xi'an.  

This is a lovely city with a lot of history - a real mix of ancient temples, drum towers and city walls and modern day shopping centres with Apple stores and the like.  It is currently their three day holiday celebrating their dead ancestors, and therefore very busy everywhere.  We visited the Shaanxi Provincial Museum which was very impressive with its collection of ancient relics and treasures dating all the way back to 500 BC.  

The weather was very rainy so we had to postpone our bike ride on the city wall perimeter for tomorrow, but we got a chance to tour around the Muslim Quarter, which is actually a large street market - lots of street vendors and food kiosks in narrow streets and alleys, and LOTS of people.  

We had two amazing meals today.  For lunch, a hot pot meal where we individually cooked a variety of vegetables and meats in broth and dipped it in a variety of sauces.  For dinner, a traditional dumpling banquet, which the students really seemed to love.  

Tomorrow we finally get our chance to see the famous terra-cotta warriors and begin preparations for our return flight this Saturday.

Bye for now!

Diego Bechthold

Our Students with the music students from the Beijing Foreign Language School

Doing tai chi at the Temple of Heaven

Doing tai chi at the Temple of Heaven

Doing tai chi at the Temple of Heaven

Visiting the Temple of Heaven

Day 6 - April 3

posted Apr 3, 2013, 10:42 AM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Apr 3, 2013, 10:42 AM ]

Ni hao again!

We checked out of our Beijing hotel this morning, and visited the Temple of Heaven.  

Before seeing the Temple, we did a tai-chi class on the beautiful grounds (after enjoying some Chinese hackysack or watching street performers play a harmonica quintet and dance).  The tai-chi was a relaxing workout, which I know sounds like an oxymoron.  

We visited the Temple which is the largest wooden structure in China.  The entire site is over 250 acres, three times larger than even the Forbidden City.  There were classes of elementary students visiting there, and it was fun to see them playing games and jumping around - kids are kids wherever you go in the world.  

We then visited the Hutong District, which is the old part of Beijing.  We enjoyed a rickshaw ride through the narrow streets and alleys, and then a family-style lunch at a local families' homes.  

We then drove to the train station and got on a high speed "bullet" train to Xi'an.  Xi'an is literally in the centre of China ("only" 8 million people in this city, compared to the 19 million in Beijing or 22 million in Shanghai), and the train ride was a smooth comfortable 6 hour ride - many of us took a nap, myself included.  I think the top speed of the train was 304 km/h at one point. 

We are now at the Titan Times Hotel in Xi'an, and we have large beautiful rooms - a 5 star hotel, one of the nicest I've ever stayed in. 

Tomorrow we visit the Big Pagoda (Xi'an was the capital of China over 800 years ago), and the large military wall that surrounds the city - we'll even get to take a 8.5 mile bicycle ride around the wall.

Diego Bechthold

Day 5 - April 2

posted Apr 2, 2013, 7:00 AM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Apr 2, 2013, 7:00 AM ]

Ni hao again!

Having a memorable and enjoyable experience in China.  

Today we visited the Beijing Capital Museum in the morning, and then the silk market/knock-off market in the afternoon. 

The kids found the knock-off market/silk market to be really fun, and some of them proved to be quite good at bartering.  I found it a bit overwhelming but I think I managed to find my own wife something quite nice.  

In the late afternoon we played at the Beijing Foreign Language School (2200 students from grades 7 - 12, 100% of them go on to university).  Their principal made a nice introductory speech and I did my best to thank them and introduce ourselves - in English, of course!  We also exchanged school gifts between us. Their concert band (around 60 students) performed 4 pieces for us, and they were excellent. Our Concert Band, Choir and Jazz Band then performed for them, and also gave an excellent performance - to quote their principal, we represented Canada very well.  Our students then got the chance to chat with their students and exchange small personal gifts.  Our students felt like rock stars since so many of their students wanted their picture with us.  It was a truly memorable experience.  

Afterwards we had Peking Duck for dinner, which was delicious.  

Tomorrow we do Tai Chi in the morning at the Temple of Heaven, lunch with local families in the Hutong District (plus a rickshaw ride), then the bullet train to Xi'an for a six hour ride - we should arrive around 11 pm China time.

Day 4 - April 1

posted Apr 1, 2013, 6:51 AM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Apr 1, 2013, 7:03 AM ]

Ni hao everyone,

Today we again enjoyed a very busy but memorable day.  Our Concert Band, Choir and Jazz Band performed on the Great Wall of China (Juyong Pass) and did quite well despite very trying circumstances such as high winds, and sunny but chilly weather weather.  

We all climbed the Great Wall, and most of us got to the highest point from the section we were visiting.  

In the afternoon we visited a Jade Factory (I believe many students got presents here for loved ones back home in Canada), then the Birds Nest stadium from the 2008 Olympics.  

We then enjoyed a spectacular Chinese acrobat/circus show, and one or our students got the chance to "volunteer" in one of the acts - it was priceless!  

Then dinner, and return to our hotel - many students are choosing to go to bed pretty early throughout this trip.

Tomorrow its a trip to the Beijing Capital Museum, Silk Market (ie. knock-off market) and performance at a local school.

Bye for now!

Diego Bechthold

Here are some photos from the trip (Click on image for larger picture)

Day 3 - March 31

posted Mar 31, 2013, 8:11 AM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Mar 31, 2013, 8:11 AM ]

Ni Hao!

We enjoyed a great day of sightseeing today, March 31 2013.  

Breakfast in our hotel is amazing, with a great variety of types of food, not just traditional Chinese.  

We visited Tiannamen Square and Forbidden City, the worlds largest city square and royal palace respectively.  Everyone seems very impressed with the history and just sheer immensity of everything.  

Our lunches and suppers have been great as well, as each one is different in accordance to different regions of China.  It's been amusing to see some students attempt to eat with chopsticks.  

In the afternoon we enjoyed a Chinese tea ceremony and sampled a variety of teas.  The oolong ginseng tea seemed to be the favourite amongst the majority of us, and we had the opportunity to purchase tea, cups, etc.  Later we enjoyed a Kung Fu show, which was simply spectacular with its choreography, staging and lighting.  

When we returned to our hotel this evening, many of us (myself included) took on an offer from our tour guide to have a personal masseuse in our rooms.  We got a 90 minute Chinese massage for around $35 CAD.  Pretty sweet!

Tomorrow all of our ensembles will perform at the Great Wall and later on take a tour of a jade factory, plus the 2008 Olympic site including the Birds Nest stadium and Cube swimming arena, plus an evening Chinese acrobat show.
Bye for now!

Diego Bechthold

Day 1 & 2

posted Mar 30, 2013, 8:21 AM by Luciano Barbieri   [ updated Mar 30, 2013, 8:27 AM ]

We have arrived safely in Beijing and are now in our beautiful hotel, the CNCC Grand Hotel.  The trip, particularly the flight from Seattle to Beijing, felt veeeeeeeeery looooooooooong, so most of us feel very tired and are going to sleep now.  

Luciano Barbieri will be posting my short updates on our BCHS music website -- -- so please refer to that website from time to time to see how we're doing.

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