FRIENDSHIP GAMES - BEIJING, CHINA

John Forrest Secondary College Tennis Program - China Tour 2018

12 April – 21 April 2018

What is the Friendship Games ? The China Stars International Friendship Games were specifically created to broaden the educational and sporting experiences of youth around the world.

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During the first week of the school holidays, 9 girls from the Specialist Tennis Program travelled to Beijing China to compete in the friendship games, along with sightseeing and learning more about the culture.  We flew overnight with not much sleep, it was a long journey. Reaching the Hong Kong layover saw all the girls getting in their last minute social media fix before hitting Beijing, as there is no access to any apps in China.

After a good nights sleep, our first day saw us travel about 2 hours to an indoor stadium to play against a Tennis club called Chaoda.  We had some tough competition but were able to get some great experience.  After lunch, we boarded the bus and headed to the famous Wangfujing St, which is one of the most famous shopping streets in Beijing.  "Wangfu" meaning Prince's residence and "jing" meaning Well.  We learnt that in previous times the Prince lived in this area and used the Well at that time for water.  Our tour guide Lily took us to the food market area of this street, which we saw many exotic foods such as scorpions, beetles, crickets, birds, seafood and more that had been candied or fried.  This was an experience in itself and something the girls had never and probably will never see again.

Day 2 - Saw a big day of Tennis and we were combined with another team from Perth. IGGSA was a combined independent girls school team to which we spent majority of our time of on tour with.  The girls from both schools mixed well and made many friendships along the way.  Some great Tennis was played with some of the girls playing against boys in doubles matches.  Challenging matches and exciting rally points were played and the girls learnt a lot about playing with and against different people, encouraging them to mingle.

Day 3 - Took us to the Hongqiao Pearl Market for the morning to get in some much needed shopping for the girls.  This was a very busy multi storey market that allowed you to barter for prices and get some really good bargains.  The girls bought some really great things to take home to their families and also managed to spend most of their spending money.  We then had a hot pot lunch that allowed us to cook our own meals and experience something different, which the girls really loved.  After lunch we drove out to an International School called Dulwich where all students and staff speak English and they hosted us to play some matches against their students.  Again, some challenging matches and a chance to meet some new people.

Day 4 - Was a huge day of sightseeing for the girls and the tennis was now over.  Temple of Sun, Beijing Zoo and Summer Palace were on the list of things to see today and also required a lot of walking.

Day 5 - We went to Nanluoguxiang which is a narrow alley that is in an old part of Beijing with restaurants, coffee shops and souvenir places which were very unique.  After wandering the street we went on a Rickshaw ride through the area and streets of this Hutong village to see the sights in a fun way.  We then stopped for lunch in the home of a Hutong family.  Here we met the owner of the house and learnt his background of Kung Fu and his involvement with famous movie stars.  In the afternoon we did some Tea tasting and went to an Acrobatic show, which was incredible.

Day 6 - Was the biggest day with over 12kms worth of walking around the famous sights.  Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City we incredible monuments with so much history.  We learnt so much about their meaning and previous emperor's and dynasty's.  After a long day of walking we got to experience a Peking Duck dinner which was delicious!

Day 7 - Was the much-awaited Great Wall of China.  One of the 7 wonders of the world that we were all so excited to see and to climb.  When we got there it was extremely busy and got to climbing when we could.  We did not expect the level of difficulty that was required to climb the thousands of stairs.  With lots of huffing, puffing, sweating and a few breaks, we finally got as far as we could go.  With an amazing view and shaking legs we made the journey back down again.  Something the girls will never forget and once in a lifetime experience.  Back to the Hongqiao markets we went to spend whatever spending money we had left on souvenirs, clothing, shoes, toys, electronics and more.  Once we were all broke we headed to a Kung Fu Show before our farewell dinner.  The dinner was an interesting experience where both John Forrest and the 4 IGSSA teams were joined for a feast and some entertainment.  Each team had to do a mini fun performance to represent their team and our John Forrest girls did a fantastic job.  Farewells were said and we were off to pack for a 4am hotel departure the next morning.

An early rise saw many tired faces and our tour guide Lily took us to the airport.  The girls formed a very strong bond with her and they were very upset they had to leave her.  After a few tears we boarded our flight home and reached Perth safe and sound.  Overall it was an incredible experience and something the girls and I will never forget.  They represented the school amazingly with other staff from other schools continually commenting on how well they embraced the experience and gave absolutely everything a go.  They thoroughly enjoyed their time in China and whilst there were a few differences and difficulties at first, they didn't want to leave.

Highlights

  • Giant Panda's at the Beijing Zoo
  • The Great Wall
  • The different food
  • Meeting new people
  • Learning about the culture from Lily

Lowlights

  • Strange foods (Chinese Desert, fried bugs)
  • Squatting toilets and associated smells
  • Long bus rides
  • Lack of the availability of coffee

What was not expected?

  • Toilet situation – 'normal' western toilets are few and far between outside the confines of the hotel. Learning to use squat toilets and bringing our own toilet paper was an experience in itself.  At times cubicles were an optional extra to which most of the time we kindly declined.
  • Phys Ed Gymnasiums at schools were in Domes due to the pollution and weather conditions.
  • Every monument, stone, tile, colour and building is built in a way for a reason. Be it to represent the gods, the ruler's time or location, it was very interesting to know the reasoning behind everything that was done.

Emma Berryman
Health and Physical Education Teacher - China Tour Coordinator/Leader

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FRIENDSHIP GAMES - BEIJING, CHINA