Finally the day has come and our China Field Trip can take off. After approximately 9 hours flying, we arrived in smoggy Beijing where the mixture between car horns, asian people and loudspeakers in front of uncountable stores make you realize that you finnally arrived in the 23 million population city.
The first official get together was at 19:00 in the hotel lobby from the Beijing City Youth Hotel, where we headed off for an evening walk led by Prof. Dr. Rüttimann following a delicious dinner.
After a short welcome of Prof. Dr. Rüttimann, explaning what will be happening the next days, we took the Subway to Qianmen Station. From there we walked trough Hutongs (alleyways formed by lines of traditional houses) – built during different emperor dynasties. During the walk he explained that daily life was on those streets, that females washed and cooked outside and that the inhabitants shared public toilets – which irritated us a bit (I guess we will get used to it quite soon!). After the evening walk we went directly to a Chinese restaurant chosen by Prof. Dr. Rüttimann.
We had the chance to try several different Chinese dishes, such as jiaozi, tofu, fried beans, peppers etc, which were all delicious. The atmosphere during the dinner was enthusiastic. Lots of students had already arrived a few days earlier in this enormous city and therefore they all shared their stories and happenings from the previous days. In the end we were amazed by the fact that we just had eaten a vast amount and selection of food as well as drinks and the sum of the bill was not more than what an entree in Switzerland would cost. Though the program during the first day was short and simply laid out to gather all of the people and enjoyed our first meal together, it was already very interesting and we had the chance to look into what China is not only on the nice pamphlets but how it actually is and what it tastes like.
We are looking forward to tomorrows activities and enjoy now the rest of the evening by sharing our first impressions of Beijing.