Our first full day of activity in China and as tradition dictates, girls down to breakfast first and on time as always, only two don’t make it despite TWO wake up calls – yep, two boys, no names of course wouldn’t want to embarrass JD and I C-S. Bet that won’t happen again. They missed a great breakfast. 

First item of business, forget the program for the day, 70th Anniversary of Communism celebrations have caused a raft of changes because of crowds and road blockages, but a full day ahead anyway just in different order. First up, juggling clowns and acrobatics – a great show by a group of local street performers, followed by lessons on how to juggle, ride a unicycle and toss a Diablo etc. This was a lot of fun and got everyone warmed up well.  

On then to the National museum – we haven’t done this one before so new to all of us. We basically walked around the whole thing to get to the entrance, this in itself was a massive task, nearly 30 minutes for that alone, this place is truly enormous, but hardly surprising housing as it does the collected treasures of one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures. From Peking man’s archaeological remains to the rise and consolidation of Communism. Everyone dispersed to look for their interest, no way we could see more than a fraction of it in the time we had. For some the Ancient, others viewed a vast collection of Gifts to the Nation from other nations (from the exquisite to the truly tacky I believe), the story of Communism, to the wealth of this vast country and all its variations. A great visit that had everyone buzzing about the bit they saw, and wishing they could have seen all the rest as well. 

Tiananmen Square was next and here was a real eye opener for the kids. Aside from its history they got to see and deal with a genuine crowd for the first time – and they dealt very well I should say. The square has been busier but still over 100,000 people all up. They got used to having people come up and ask them for pictures but were still a bit overawed when we got them all together for a group shot and a huge crowd of people gathered around to take pictures of us all together. Add to that the number of parents who pushed their small children into our group to get involved. Our guys didn’t mind and you will note if you check out the piccies Angela is posting on Facebook there is nearly always a couple of extra small kids involved. Kara was fine until she noted that the crowd was about 4 times the size of our group and jostling to get closer and get their shot in, that she found disconcerting. But all in good spirit, once the group shot was done the next half hour was sent getting individual and small group shots with the fans – you may note in some pic’s that the small children weren’t always so keen to be in it, but parents were so the pics were taken. Even I got in on the act when one woman pushed her mother to stand with me for a picture – mom didn’t look too happy about it truth be told but daughter clearly thought it was a great idea. This trend for locals to want pictures, usually just with our great looking kids, continued, and will continue I suspect for the duration of the trip. 

The Temple of Heaven came after a fabulous lunch and gave the students their first taste of grand scale Ancient Chinese architecture. Once again, lots of pictures taken and again lots of locals took ours. All the students now have a multitude of Chinese friends. For my part one little boy was quite fascinated with me and parents wanted a picture, OK but the fan concept changed when one of our guys commented that he overheard the little boy say something about ‘Santa’. Ah well, so I stole someone else’s fan, so goes it. 

The day finished with a visit to the Red Theatre and the famous ‘Kung Fu Show’, lots of glitz and flashes and some great martial arts to watch. 

DAY ONE of activity and while not the forecast activities (which will be fitted in elsewhere in our visit) everyone went back to the hotel feeling they had had a good week’s worth.  

Tomorrow the Wall. 

Martin Keen