After a hectic, but amazing weekend, at Harbin I believe I can speak for everyone when I say we all struggled to wake up and be ready for 8am. The first session we had was about tea ceremonies, this involved the lovely Miss Wei teaching us the different teas there is; ranging from the several different herbal teas to the strong Pur’ee tea, that was not recommend for beginners such as ourselves. I come to find a personal favourite of mine was the yellow mountain green tea, which was very refreshing.
Miss Wei, along with Chinese students, helped to explain how the process worked using different utensils and teas, making sure the tea animals were included, This consisted of a dog, pig, dragon and “Gongfu” which is a small clay figure which can only be described as a toad that eats money? During the cultural session we got a chance to try the amazing “moon cake” which is traditionally ate during New Year’s and being considered a sweet delicacy to the Chinese. Even trying a Hawthorne slice, which in appearance looked like meat but turned out to be a berry flavoured biscuit. Which appeared to be a hit; showing appearance isn’t everything! The lovely students also brought in little gifts of jewellery for us to wear including hair clips and necklaces and helped us to tie our hair up in traditional Chinese hair styles.
After having our fill of the different types of tea it was time for us to go tea shopping. Daqing often surprises us but we were not prepared when we found out that they actually had a whole 4 floor mall dedicated to selling tea! There was so many shops for us to go into to see the beautiful delicate designs of the cups and pots, even being able to sit down in one shop for a “try before you buy” on their elegant tea tables! Every “chief” within the shop wanted us to go into to see the different things they sold; they were all so kind and accommodating! One thing I did find out very quickly is that you need to be able to bargain, which luckily Miss Wei was an amazing at! So as I stood back red faced, convinced I should just pay the asking price, Miss Wei took the lead managing to sort out not only my gift but two cups as an added extra!! She was certainly a hero to all of us as she battled through the prices like an expert!!
After this we were took too see the traditional Chinese dresses, after a lovely welcome from them all, the accommodating staff took us around the building which included not only dresses but a hair salon, acupuncture facilities and a café, explaining the history of the Chipao dresses. Then it was time for us to try the dresses on! This was an experience quite a few of the students were worried about as the dresses were all so tiny in size over here. However for the students who went and tried on their dresses and suits looked fabulous posing for photos on the beautiful bridge whilst the staff made them pose like models. It was experience that I believe everyone would enjoy! Whilst the students who did not feel comfortable sat and had coffee, making sure to get there coffee fix before we carried on our journey. Before we left, the staff generously gave us each a key ring which lit up and had a little Chipao dress inside, it was very cute and I plan to attach it to my keys when I get home. A gift that lasts forever.
Once we had finished our window shopping, due to the high prices, we left to go have some tea where we were took to a wonderfully different BBQ restaurant called “Yao Yao”, this restaurant had a game were all the members could play, so we linked up to our phone and whoever shook the phone the most was able to win the race! But that wasn’t the only surprise… we had knife and forks!! Having not held them in our hands for 9 days we were all very confused, when we saw them next to our plates but we appreciated them once the food arrived! The delicious food consisted of different meats some spicy and some normal, Vegetarian salads for our lovely student, who stated it was very nice! Not only this but they had chips and what looked like an egg but students soon found out was actually mayonnaise with an egg yolk on top! And most surprising of all pizza! It was safe to say we all had our fill of food and there was plenty of food left over! There was just so much! The food was incredible.
Now the toilets in this restaurant was certainly an unexpected surprise, China had jumped from one extreme to the other as we have gone from using toilets much like a troth to a jet wash up the derriere. We certainly made sure each of us all went to the toilet to test out the buttons which provided different levels of service for us. The button conceited of a button for washing your front bits and two for your behind depending on if you want soft or high pressured. They even had the foresight to provide a dryer to dry your area for you afterwards. Everyone one of us tried the toilets and I heard no complaints from them as they came out. Some of the group even went twice! It was certainly an experience.
Once we all gathered, we decided to take a walk across the lake which was all brilliantly lit with lights, as we crossed we got the most perfects views. Which I believe everyone fully enjoyed! Due to the weather still being nice we all stood and had photos together but I don’t believe the photos can do it justice. It was a view only china could provide and they did it, it was breath taking.
Blog post by Jordan Dolan on Monday 17th June