On Saturday, 3rd July, after a short night of extensive karaoke singing we met at 7:45 am in the lobby. Scheduled departure was 8:00 am to avoid traffic. On the bus we received a brief introduction about the city of Handan by Mr. Wang, our translator.
Upon arrival at the Hebei University of Engineering we were warmly welcomed by Vice President Ma Jiben and his translator. After that, we were first introduced to the coal mining process and then to robotics by two local students. This was done very professionally and in fluent English. After the group photo with our hosts we left the university and had a short pit stop at a supermarket before continuing our journey to our business meeting at the Handan Iron & Steel Group.
At Handan Iron & Steel Group, we were received by Mr. Liu, a staff member of the company. For security reasons helmets were distributed to us and we started our tour by visiting the control room of the blast furnace, which is the facility to melt iron and to remove unnecessary components from it. We continued the tour with a walk to the actual blast furnace, which was very impressive because one of the exits was temporarily open so we could see the liquid iron flow out. After Mr. Liu had explained the functionality of the blast furnace, we continued the tour to the hot rolling press, another core area of the steel production. This was the end of the official tour and Deputy Manager Mr. Liu (a second one) accompanied us in the bus to the exit of the company and was kind enough the answer some of our questions despite his tight schedule. All in all, the visit was short but intense since we got the opportunity to see the heart of the steel production process in a state-of-the-art facility.
Then we drove to one of Handan’s most traditional restaurants, which is famous for its delicious dumplings. Following the lunch we took the bus back to the hotel for the check-out. At 2 pm we met up again to visit the Handan Museum where we received a guided tour by Mrs. Chang about the history and artwork of Handan. Unfortunately, the tour was a little rushed since many of us would have enjoyed spending more time studying the historical exhibits. Subsequent to the museum, the class was split into two groups since some students had an appointment with a local tailor for the fitting of tailored suits. The rest of the class joined Mr. Wang for a shopping tour at a shopping mall near by.
At 6 pm Mr. Rüttimann gave a goodbye speech to the parents of Xiaoying and handed over a Swiss Vodka bottle as a token of appreciation. This concluded our stay in Handan and we boarded our bus to the airport to continue our journey to Shanghai. We left Handan, a city rich of culture and tradition, with many great memories. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed approximately one hour but after all, we still managed to get to Shanghai where we had to organize the transportation to the Hotel Jinjiang Inn individually. There was no official programme planned for the rest of the evening so little groups formed to explore the city individually. The restless among us who stayed up until after midnight were taken aback by a sudden downpour. The rain was so intense it easily soaked all cloth within seconds. Nevertheless, every one of us managed to get home and more importantly, to find some rest for the first free day on our trip.