On July 26th, the NSLI-Y group arrived at Beijing for a five-day trip. Five days ago, a severe storm left Beijing in losses and damages to properties as well as injuries and even death to people. Therefore, Dr. Jianguo Chen, Director of the NSLI-Y program, takes security and safety as the most important issue of the group’s Beijing trip. After checking local weather forecasts for several times prior to the trip and making sure that there will be no storm in the following days, the group got on the high-speed train from Shanghai and started their journey to Beijing, the capital of China.
All students, faculty and staff got up at 4:30 in the morning, departed the ECNU dorm at 5:30 and got on the train at 7:00 am. China is one of the leading countries in the world that its high-speed train travels at an average of 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour speed. A special kind of decelerating glass is installed on the train to make passengers feel more comfortable and pay little attention to its actual speed. It was great weather going north from Shanghai, until the train entered the territory of Shangdong Province. Skies were becoming grayer and it looked like storms were coming. Would it be another storm in Beijing? The group was very anxious.
It only took about five hours for the high speed train to arrive at Beijing. At 12:15pm, the vice president and two tour guides from the travel agency welcomed the group in Beijing South Train Station. There was no rain in Beijing! Maybe it’s because of the storm a few days ago, except a little bit humid, it felt cooler and nicer in Beijing than in Shanghai!
After lunch, the group visited Tiananmen Square. It started to drizzle as they got off the bus. However the group was well prepared with umbrellas and raincoats. The Tiananmen Square was huge, and there were “people mountain people sea” (Chinglish, meaning huge crowd of tourists :)). Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world measuring 880m by 500m (960 yd by 550 yd) for an area of 440,000 m² (109 acres).
In the center of the square stood the Monument to the People’s Heroes. On the west side of square is the Great Hall of the People. On the east is the National Museum of China. And on the south is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. As one of the main landmarks of Beijing, Tiananmen (literally meaning “Gate of Heavenly Peace”), built more than 600 years ago, located to the north of the square, is a national symbol of China and the entrance to the Imperial City in the back.
Students went through the gates on Tiananmen and arrived at the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace for the Ming and Qing Dynasties. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. Architectures in the Forbidden City are just as splendid as one can imagine. To the group’s big surprise, members of the Manchester United Football Club from England were also visiting the Forbidden City. What a nice encounter of the West and the East as people from the UK and US met in the century old Chinese royal residences in Beijing! Students took pictures with those soccer players. It was such a fun experience!
Since everybody got up too early this morning and had travelled half of China to Beijing, they decided to cancel the plan to visit Wangfujing Street Shopping District for the night. They had dinner at 6:30pm and moved into a very nice hotel, the Broadtec Royal International Hotel.
The group will visit the Great Wall tomorrow. But it is all up to the weather. As Dr. Chen says, safety and security are always most important.