Tour page | Program | Travel blog

Day 16 – Journey Home

 Published on 14 May 2013

After we checked in, we checked our places and neighbors in the plane. Some people were very happy having a seat to the window so that they could sleep in peace. Brano had too little space for his legs and got relocated to another seat where he fell asleep almost instantly. The flight went okay; we only had a small delay waiting for transfer passengers at Zürich. When we arrived at Schiphol, the level of stress increased as we had to wait a little while for our suitcases. Luckily however, all suitcases ended up on the belt. After everyone received their suitcases, some students were finally reunited with their worrisome but especially cheerful parents. A handful of students have finished the journey towards home by train.

After all, this was the end of a beautiful learning experience where fun and “education” played a central role. We want to thank the committee for organizing this great trip to China.

Day 15 – Last Day in China

 Published on 14 May 2013

The group split up into several smaller assemblies that made their way to different spots. A big part went to the Olympic stadium (known as the Bird’s nest). Some others took a view into the Summer palace, which used to be a very peaceful part of land, including several traditional buildings and a big lake. But on this Saturday it was very crowded with, mostly, Chinese tourists. Luckily there were good spots to relax in the lawn with a view over the lake. The more adventurous ones went to both and also took a glimpse in an ancient Hutong, a traditional Chinese village consisting of narrow streets or alleys.

Around 7 p.m. we gathered to have our last diner. In a highly exclusive restaurant we enjoyed a pre-ordered meal in the company of Mingze Hou. He is a Chinese guy, working in Eindhoven, who helped the committee in organizing the activities. After Mingze was thanked, Brano and Qi Han took the opportunity to thank the committee for their effort, also by giving the committee members a Chinese notebook.

The evening ended in the bar of the hostel, were the funniest pictures made this trip were shown on a screen. This was a very enjoyable first review of our impactful experiences in the People’s Republic of China.

Day 14 – The Great Wall Mutianyu

 Published on 14 May 2013

The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall. The Mutianyu section used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. It was first built in the mid-6th century, in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) construction of the present wall began. In 1404, a pass was built in the wall and in 1569, the Mutianyu Great Wall was rebuilt and till today most parts of it are well preserved. In the 1980s it was reconstructed again and this is the wall we were going to see today. The wall consists mainly from granite and it is 7–8.5 metres high and the top is 4–5 metres wide. Watchtowers are densely placed along this section of the Great Wall – 22 watchtowers on this 2,250-metre-long stretch. Both the outer (Northern) and inner (Southern) Wall are covered with merlons, so that shots could be fired at the enemy on both sides (a feature very rare on other parts of the Great Wall).

Finally after a two and a half hour drive we arrived at the village at the bottom of the mountains near the wall. As soon as we got of the buss we felt the burning presence of the clear sky and sun. It was a beautiful day maybe too beautiful for climbing. The guide advised us to take the cable cart upstairs to save our strength for climbing the wall instead of the mountain towards the wall. The wall consist namely of 4000+ steps. The view was magnificent and the weather as well, there was no smog or abundant Chinese blocking our view. For Chinese standard it was quite calm and we had enough space to travel a significant part of the wall. We had three hours to explore as much of the wall and its views as possible before grouping at watch tower 10 for a group picture. There were some difficulties with this because of an injury and fear heights. After the almost group picture we set out the toboggan, a single rider bobsleigh like downhill track. After a dreadful slow downhill race (Chinese are chicken shits) we arrived at Mr Yang’s. Some of us set out to buy some souvenirs at the stall around the village others went to the restaurant immediately. The lunch at Mr Yang’s was great it seemed that Beijing had a more western acceptable taste.

Around 3:30pm we arrived at the hostel and were granted a small contribution of the committee to buy some dinner. Some were daring enough to try the street-life dinner-style, while other chose a more safe approach, franchise food or restaurant food.

We agreed to group at 22:30pm to go and explore Beijing by night for the first time. Together we set out to Club Red. Upon arrival the question arose: are we at the right kind of bar? It seemed as if we had arrived in a gay bar with a dancing pole on which guys showed their moves. After a while we decide to go and find a better club and found it just across the street. We swarmed the podia and started claim the dance floor. Mingze was kind enough to bargain for us and drastically reduce the beer price. It was a good last party night.

Day 13 – Forbidden City

 Published on 10 May 2013

At 10 we arrived in Beijing, where a bus was waiting to take us to our hostel. Immediately a difference with the other visited cities was noticeable: less tourists, more noisy and a real ‘china’-feeling. The buildings are less high and the road wider. Our hostel is located in the north and is in a beautiful Chinese style where the rooms are situated around a courtyard with picnic benches. After freshen up and a brunch we left the hostel for the first exploration of Beijing city.

We headed to the Forbidden City with the metro, where we got lost in the enormous amount of people. The area of the Forbidden City was a no-go area for citizens for a long time; a visit without invitation resulted in immediate execution. Nowadays it is almost fully publically accessible and this was clearly visible in the mass of people within the walls of the city walls. We were all quite impressed by the size of the area and the number of buildings that were once all part of the emperor’s (home) complex. After the Forbidden City, we went to the Tiananmen Square: the largest square worldwide which played an important role in the history of Chinese leadership and revolution. In our opinion, we experienced the ultimate China-feeling on the square. The enormous size, propagandistic movies on huge screens, soldiers marching around, and the large buildings around the square made us feel like walking around in a communistic country. To imagine that over a million people can gather there to listen to the speeches of their leaders was a bit strange.

After the impressions of the afternoon, we went back to the hostel, but first we had to eat. Used to the Chinese food, we were not afraid to step into a small restaurant without an English menu whereby Han Qi composed a nice meal for us with dumplings, beans, sweet pork, dumplings, fish, tofu and more dumplings. When we entered the place, three tables of Chinese men were already sitting, eating and especially drinking there. This resulted after an hour in a loud shouting of drunken Chinese cheers and shouts. To give you an impression, it could have sound like ‘hoohoohoochoioioiheheheechoo’ on high volume.

After our meal, we went back to the hostel. No clubbing tonight because we have to get up early tomorrow, but relaxing, chatting, and playing games, playing pool and drinking a (little) beer. The committee had a little surprise for the birthday of Rudy and had bought a birthday cake, which we all had a piece of. After that we went to bed to be fit for the day after.

Day 12 – University and Train to Beijing

 Published on 10 May 2013

We woke up not that early, the morning was cloudy and smoggy. The morning started by packing our suitcases so after the university visit we could directly go to the train station. After hearing some interesting stories about the night before, we left the hotel at 11 together with our hosts from the university. After a nice walk we arrived at the university campus, located in the middle of the city. We were welcomed with an outstanding lunch in the university’s hotel, accompanied by the head of the School of Environment and Energy and a few PhD-students. Some of us were still not used to the Chinese food, but after trying every dish on the table some of use found out that they can get used to this cuisine. Although, others still have some doubts about the ‘black eggs’, prepared in mud. With satisfied stomachs we could start the formal day program with the staff of the University. It was very nice to notice they appreciated our presence at the campus. A poster that announced our visit including a ‘TU/e’ logo was placed on several locations on campus. Also the extensive lunch as a start, the snacks and drinks during the day and the ‘west-adapted’ dinner showed their hospitality and will to build up a good relationship.

The program was filled with some nice presentations from both universities by different directions and levels. There was a big difference between the both universities but it was still very interesting to learn something about the new developments in the technological sector. Material research and systems were discussed during the presentations of the Southeast University. The PhD student from Germany told us some useful information about living in Nanjing as a student and the possibilities to develop yourself. China will be the new technological center of the world. Visiting the other parts of the campus ‘dropped into the water’. We have seen some parts of the library and made a group picture.

After visiting the library there was time for an informative program, namely a ‘Pizza meeting’ between Dutch master students and Chinese master and PhD students. This to share different experiences of both universities but even more to share the experience of the both different lifestyles. The Chinese students are more subdued and serious (most of their effort is put into improving their knowledge), the Dutch students are more ingenious and flexible. The best example is the study trip organized by OfCourse, a Chinese student should never take the initiative to organize this.

These visit gave insight in the difference between the Dutch and Chinese students, whether the Dutch students mostly collaborating together in groups, the Chinese were more focused on their own work (laptop). Despite the unique chance to study at a great University and the strict regime they also had some bad habits, namely surfing on QQ (Facebook) and looking movies instead of studying.

Finally it was time to discover ‘the adventure of the night train’. By entering the train we directly felt some hard feelings about the travel comfort during this night. Piling up the CME students was a fact and comparisons with the feelings of squeezed animals was already made. Luckily it was Rudy’s Birthday tonight!

Day 11 – Visit municipality of Nanjing & Urban Planning Exhibition Nanjing

 Published on 10 May 2013

Our day started with the all too familiar dumplings and rice for breakfast although some of us visited the starbucks for a more common western breakfast. When we were gathering for our visit to the municipality of Nanjing some of the commissionaires, read Eric and Jakko, showed up too late because the temptation of Nanjing’s nightlife was too great that night. Although Ilse didn’t join the nightlife diehards she was also delayed. All of them drew a lot of attention with the pink ducky tie and the orange lions head. At the hotel we were picked up by Vincent Liu, he is staff of European and African affairs of the municipality of Nanjing. His job is to assist company from abroad to settle in Nanjing. After a short walk we arrived at Nanjing’s city hall where we met the president of urban planning and the project leader of environmental planning. They ushered us into a luxurious conference room where we received an introduction by the president of urban planning. Within this introduction he explained the spheres of China’s governmental system which were national, provincial, municipal and districts. In his introduction he also explained that the purpose of this meeting was not merely to inform us but also to create a dialogue to exchange knowledge about urban planning from both countries.

After the introduction a lecture about Nanjing’s situation and ambitions was given. The main objective in a nutshell was to find a balance between rapid new urban and suburban developments and the preservation of Chinese historical and cultural heritage. Besides that the focus was also on creates a sustainable and healthy living environment. To sketch an idea of the situation: for the next two years 11 million square meters of green building are planned and their aim is to supply inhabitant with green areas within the range of 500 meters or 5 minutes walking.

Soon we started the discussion which was a questions and answering session. First we discussed the interaction and relations between the spheres of Chinese governments. We learned that most of the decisions about urban planning and future development where made by the national government and that they are mandatory for the lower spheres. Although mandatory there is space for interaction and discussion between the spheres. Since the cities in china are developing remarkably fast we discussed the dilemma between rapid development and qualitative development. It turned out that the government are now starting to realize that they have to focus more on quality and durability instead of speed. Lastly we talked about the ratio between private and public investments. We learned that the majority of investments are public.

After this intensive and also exhausting meeting (especially for the diehards among us) we crossed the streets for a lunch. Han Qi advised Vincent Liu to have a non-Chinese lunch because Brano Glumac was craving for different tastes. The lunch at the taco restaurant was very nice and all of us were ready for the afternoon after it.

Shortly after we visited the Nanjing Urban Planning Exhibition we were guided by an enthusiastic Chinese young woman. Her presentation was like a the rapid Chinese way of urban development; fast, efficient, top down and without to many possibilities for question, interaction or small talk. Her presentation clearly showed the history, present and future of Nanjings in terms of urban development and planning. Especially the video about the future of Nanjing was very ambitious and maybe even utopic at some points. Despite this mind blowing video some of us could not resist the temptation of sleep.

When we left the exhibition we had some time for ourselves and we visited the ancient wall of Nanjing. Most of us enjoyed the island in the lake and climbed the wall while visiting the Jimingsi Temple which is an ancient Buddhism Temple build in the early 6th century. Since Nanjing represents the 7th tallest building in the world some of us could not resist to climb this landmark and they ended up in the city’s highest club and restaurant.

Last but not least we had a lovely traditional Chinese dinner from the Sanxi region which we all enjoyed greatly. We all finished our day by exploring the nightlife of Nanjing ones more. With our exotic European dancing moves some of us had a close encounter with the Chinese girls.

Day 10 – Eco city, university, farmer city and football match

 Published on 10 May 2013

After visiting the eco village, we went to the Nanjing University of Technology. Because it was a free day, not many students where on the campus. During the tour over the big campus we saw the gym. In this building we played badminton with some Chinese students. After that we visited the swimming pool.

Further, one of the contact persons knows a finished project of this University. It is a farmer village. The farmers who are living over here get a dwelling in trade of their land. All these plots will be used for urban development. Nowadays, these farmers are working in especially factories in the surrounding area.

In the evening some people went to a football match of Jiangsao Sainty, the football club of Nanjing. The match was in the Olympic stadium of Nanjing.

Day 9 – Ghost City

 Published on 05 May 2013

We had to present ourselves as possible buyers to make it seem like we were interested in buying any of the newly developed houses. As many were wearing shorts and t-shirts we weren’t dressed as real businessmen. When we entered the main building with a large maquette of the construction project, we were approached almost instantly by various brokers that wanted to sell the accommodations. The brokers were dressed formally despite the sunny 27 degrees weather outside. After taking a quick look at the maquette, we were offered some tea and invited to go visit the area. We first went to a villa. These were designed as Mediterranean semi-detached houses. We went inside a model house and the first thing we noticed was that the speed the houses were built with affected the quality in a negative way. We saw cracks and footprints in the concrete structures, holes in the plaster and when we touched something we got scared it would break off. Different sized villas exist ranging from 165m2 to 227m2 with prices from 1.5 to 2.5 million RMB. The house we visited costs around € 300.000 which is quite cheap compared to the Dutch equivalents.

We then took a short walk through the area and saw some gardeners maintaining the greenery. The area was also fenced together with barbed wire and glass shards. Camera surveillance was also heavy, and as we agreed only Guido was authorized to make pictures, we could not make any pictures ourselves but some of us did anyway (obviously out of sight). We then visited a model apartment which was situated in a separate building. These apartments ranged from 400.000 RMB to 600.000 RMB. This was also the reason why Erup city is a ghost town, since the average employee in Nanjing earns around 2.000 RMB per month. Chinese can generally borrow a maximum of 10 times their yearly income from the bank. Far from enough to be able to acquire an apartment. Another remarkable thing is that if you want to buy an apartment you’d have to pay when you sign the contract, however you have to wait 9 months before you can move into your new apartment. An 80m2 apartment in the inner city of Nanjing costs around 1.4 million RMB, compared to 400.000 RMB for an apartment in the ‘ghost city’. A big disadvantage of living in the new isolated city is that no metro station is planned and the trip to Nanjing centre takes 10 minutes by bus, followed by a 30 minute metro ride. On the way back the bus driver hit the mirror of another bus. It was our first accident in the busy Chinese traffic.

In the evening we had an authentic Chinese dinner together in a restaurant close to the hotel. There were some misunderstandings with the food ordering (one group received too few dishes). However, with the help of Qi Han, problems were solved quickly and we managed to order some extra food. Some people had some energy left after the dinner and went for a run. Most people took it easy and enjoyed a calm evening.

Day 8 – Ming’s Tomb

 Published on 05 May 2013