Our arrival toBeijingInternationalAirportwas pleasant. Passing through customs was a breeze. Lines were quick and the transaction went smoothly. I was happy to give a rating of “Excellent” when I was surveyed about my customs experience.
Mr. Lamont, Byanka Lugo’13, and I were greeted at the airport by Vicky Zhang’12 and Nancy Xue’16 with the most gorgeous flower bouquets. They welcomed us with style and gave me some quick tips to avoid jet-lag. After a fourteen hour flight, it was much appreciated. After initial greetings and ni hao’s, Vicky’s mother and Dilong Sun’s (’11) mother accompanied us to Chengde, our destination.
On the way, we stopped for a bit of ice cream alongside the road. Delighted at the thought of adventure, I chose a bean-flavoured popsicle. You just can’t get that kind of taste in theU.S.We all enjoyed our popsicles and after a quick pit-stop, we were on our way.
Upon arriving in Chengde, we headed promptly to the No.3 High School of Chengde and straight to dinner. Dinner was much better than what we expected. Being treated as a bunch of really honorable guests, we went to a nicely decorated room and sat with the headmasters of the school. Headmaster Wang greeted us with great passion and he welcomed us happily. He proposed a toast and Mr. Lamont and Headmaster Wang enjoyed a special Chinese wine for the occasion. After the toast, my meal began with my choice of hot tea or Coca-cola. I choose both. I fiddled around with my chopsticks and learned proper holding procedure. Headmaster Wang let us know that out of everybody, only Mr. Lamont held his chopsticks gracefully in the proper way. (Obviously the Headmaster hadn’t seen my stabbing technique) When our food was placed in front of us, we were shocked. The quantity of food was astounding and the variety plentiful. We all made sure to try everything and ended up with several favourites. I enjoyed a spicy salad type dish called “liangban youmaicai” and “cang cu li ji”, which is also known as sweet-sour pork. It was truly a wonderful dinner that proved that the Chinese had some of the best cuisine in the world. We were all grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Wang and the preparers of our delicious meal. After tasting and explaining the name of every dish, our conversation turned to sports and to questions about the region. We learned that the male faculty of No.3 High School plays a quick game of basketball with the Headmaster every morning. Mr. Lamont was invited to the faculty game which was due to begin the next morning at 6 A.M. We also learned that the high school housed 1700 students and that the room we were eating in was reserved exclusively for faculty members. The students ate in another room below us.
After our satisfying meal, we turned in for the night and got a chance to spend time in the student dorms. We were four to the room and we each had our individual twin bed and locker. Poor Mr. Lamont slept alone in his dormitory. Nancy, Vicky, Byanka, and I got used to our Spartan accommodations. Sleeping on a hard surface is good for the back, I hear. Jet-lag set and it was sweet dreams until tomorrow.