This week we are going to have a really exciting blog talking ALL ABOUT BAIHE. The Baihe residential lasted 5 days (4 nights) packed with fun activities.
Here is a recount of my Baihe experience.
I woke up with my first thought (almost automatically) being “I am going to leave home for four nights”. I was sad to leave, but my excitement quickly invaded my feelings. I got dressed in the clothes I had picked the night before. Here is a picture of the team T-shirt we were all wearing (from left to right: Paulo, Matthew, me & Louis):
We drove to school (Mum & Dad came along too), and I dropped off my passport and phone with Mr. Rhodes. We got in our lines with our small teacher groups (I was in Ms Chloe’s group). We then spent a while chatting with each other, while the teachers sorted the luggage labels and the people labels (we had to wear name tags with emergency phone numbers on them). I then said goodbye to Mum and Dad, and then went off to get my sandwich. I then said goodbye again, when I rushed outside for a last cuddle!
Eventually, we got all the suitcases (and children) onto the buses, and we set off to the train station (Mathew, me, Louis & Paulo – a different one).
When we got to the station, once again we took a long time to get everything off the buses. We wheeled all the suitcases to security, and then wheeled them out the other end, all having been scanned. Our group then sat on the edge of a flowerbed to wait for the train “boarding gate” (platform ticket barriers) to open. We amused ourselves by watching the revolving television screens above the north meeting point.
When the platform finally opened, the teachers led us through the “VIP” entrance barrier – as it is a lot easier when you have 97 children with large suitcases – and we got on the train. The train ride was about 5~6 hours long, with a stop every hour or two. We were on the China high-speed network from Hongqiao station to Beijing south station, so the ride was comfortable and definitely on-time. The really bad thing was that we were not allowed to stand up – so we could only talk to the people sitting around us. However, I did get to read half of a ‘would you rather…’ book with Ethan. Some were disgusting, for example would you rather eat a melted chocolate bar lying on the pavement or drink the juice leaking out of a full rubbish bin! We were also given a quiz book, but it didn’t have very many thinking problems to solve, and there were too many general knowledge questions.
After Ethan and I read about half the “would you rather …’ book, the train started slowing down and we came into Beijing South railway station. We got off the train with our suitcases, and met our Terratribes leaders, who were almost exactly the same people as last year – including Simon, who turned out to be my big Terratribes group (group 1) leader – the same as last year! After we all got off the platform, we walked for about five minutes towards the buses, and then we got on them, with the suitcases safely underneath the bus. We then started the one to two hour journey from Beijing to Baihe.
When we got to the guesthouse where we were staying, we put all our suitcases in one place, and then we sat down in the courtyard we used as a meet ing place. We we given a briefing on everything we needed to know that night. We then had dinner (which was not very good) and found out our roommates (revised) and our room numbers. My roommates were Arush and Matthew, and we were in room 18, which was one of the best rooms! Arush got really freaked out about the insects around the light, and Matthew tried to kill them using mosquito repellent (even though they were not mosquitos) and deodorant! Matthew made his bed a bit wet because the light was right over it. Then, when I was undressing, someone was about to walk past the window, so I quickly yanked the curtains shut. They were up for half a second, and then the curtain came crashing down off the curtain pole – oops! We were very lucky not to have a squat en-suite toilet in our room, however it did mean that lots of people came to visit our toilet for a poo.
Then Mr. Rhodes came and told everyone to go outside for a fire drill, and then we went straight back to bed.
Tuesday was Great Wall hiking, and we were woken up at 7:00 am to get ready for breakfast at 8:00 am. Breakfast was O.K. but could have been loads better if Dad had been there to make pancakes. We then got in our lines in the courtyard, and got on the buses to the Great Wall.
Overtime I did get bored of travelling on the residential – it was a two hour bus drive to the area we were climbing. We got off the bus and then walked to Subway – where we got our lunch to take up the Great Wall. We then walked up the stairs to the wall (everyone was very sad when we passed the ski lift up but were not allowed to take the lift). However, we did get a delicious snack – an Oreon pie – when we got to the top of the stairs onto the Great Wall.
Then we hiked for about an hour. I didn’t keep track of the time but I think it was an hour. Because I was at the back of our pack, I was able to get in Mr. Rhodes selfie with the other people near the back (he was right at the back).
We then got to a good spot off the Great Wall to have lunch. I ate my ham sandwich and then paid Max ¥10 for a Bourbon biscuit (YUM).
And then it started to rain, so we started walking back quickly. But it stopped raining about fifteen minutes later, so we could slow down. We stopped so some people could catch up, and some people paid ridiculous prices for fridge magnets bought from a small shop on the Great Wall.
When we got down the stairs, we were given half an hour to shop for souvenirs. I received ¥5 for helping Louis bargain for a panda hat & paw, but I didn’t buy anything.
After another not-so-good dinner, we had half an hour in our rooms and then we played intruder by the river. The aim of the game is to get the most ‘treasure’ (random objects such as plastic bottles, rope, boots and even a ladder. Someone was sitting in the patch of random objects blindfolded, and they were holding a torch. As this game was played by the river, it was just rocks on the ground. If the person with the torch shined the light on you (they were listening for your footsteps) then you had to go back to your team’s base. Some items were booby-trapped by having rocks in them, or in one case, a rope leading from something to under the stool.
It was a fun day, and I went to bed around ten o’clock.
On Wednesday, we were doing activities in our big TT groups. After the usual wake-up time and breakfast, my group went to the other side of the road, where we had more than two hours of fun team building activities and games. My favourite game was this game where you had to try and retrieve a small Mike Wazowski and take him back to the finish line without being spotted by Simon, who had his back turned and looked around every few seconds. How was this team building made more difficult? One of my legs was tied to someone else’s leg.
After lunch, which was a nice bacon sandwich for me, our group went across the river in an iron tissue box. I’m not joking. It was a large iron box in the shape of a tissue box that could fit eight people at a time.
When we got to the other side we learnt about the harnesses and all the gear to go rock climbing. Also, it was on real rock. There were four routes, in order of difficulty. I did no. 2 and no. 4. It was really fun!
We then went back to the guest house (across the river in HMS tissue box*) for dinner. After dinner we had the TALENT SHOW! I was taking part in a comedy act where we were pretending to be on a TV show called laugh out loud. I was the host! There were some other comedians, as well as magicians and dancers. Ours was probably the best comedy, as another group was doing stand-up comedy and hadn’t rehearsed once.
We were then told about the next day, and the complicated procedures that we were to follow the next morning.
On Thursday, group three and four got up at six so they could have breakfast at seven and on the buses to via-feratta around eight, when the rest of us started breakfast. My group’s first activity was orienteering, where we learnt how to use a compass (including the “putting red Fred in his shed” rhyme). We were then given forty minutes to search for items using the compass, a map and a sheet with compass directions. Our group were unable to find two items due to high river levels. So we found a boot on a stick instead!
After another sandwich lunch, it was our turn to go the the via-feratta. The via-feratta is a course on the side of a mountain consisting of metal hoops stuck into the mountain and a safety rope anchored every metre or two. Here is a picture of the course:
Yes, I was scared when I was forty metres high (131.2336 feet) because I had to keep looking down at where I was putting my feet. When I came down 30-40 minutes after I had started climbing up, I was so happy to have my feet on the ground. I cheered on the other 30 or 40 people coming down, and then we left.
We had a very nice dinner that night, as we had barbecue! I really liked the lamb skewers. Then, after dinner, we had a huge bonfire, and we told funny stories, horror stories, residential stories, jokes and riddles. I was quite embarrassed when Arush told over 100 people that I had pulled down the curtains in our room!
We were told that we would be waking up at five the next day, due to unpredictable Beijing traffic. So, we went to bed straight away.
On Friday we woke up on time, with Mr. Rhodes knocking on the window, very early. We had our suitcases ready by our beds, and we took those down to the buses before breakfast, which was only quaker squares baked in cinnamon with UHT milk (urgh), so I had a very small breakfast. We managed to get ourselves on the buses and moving by six o’clock. The funny thing was, nearly everyone on the bus fell asleep! (but I stayed awake). The traffic was quite bad, but we still got our subway sandwiches and through security an hour early.
The train ride was a lot more fun this time, because I read the whole book “Diary of a wimpy kid movie diary” (which Louis had lent to me) on the ride.
When we got back to school, I was so happy to see Mum and Dad again! I gave Mum lots of cuddles and I caught up on my food by having a large steak and jacket potato.
What a fun residential!
Thomas Roberts, glad to be back home!
*I nicknamed it that