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October 28, 2013

Logansport girls basketball team checks in from China

Team enjoys sightseeing in Beijing.

Editor’s note: Members of the Logansport girls basketball team are visiting China this week for a historic trip. The Lady Berries are the first team from Indiana to make an in-season trip overseas, as Monday was the first official practice day for IHSAA girls basketball teams. The following is a journal that senior Whitney Jennings is writing for the Pharos-Tribune.

Sunday, Day 1

We made it! We’ve arrived in Beijing, China!

It’s been a very long day of travel. The flight was 13 hours, but it went smoothly. Many of us spent our time working on homework, watching movies, or sleeping. I often found Coach Hoover walking up and down the aisles. His legs just did not fit in that seat very well.

Since this was my first time ever flying, I was a little anxious heading into today. I wasn’t scared. I just didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully my mom is on the trip with me. Having her next to me during my first flight made me a lot less nervous. No one in the group seemed to be bothered too much by the long flight.

After we landed and gathered our luggage, we were picked up by Josh, our guide for this week. He took us to a restaurant for dinner. Before we came we were warned that some of the food here might be a little strange. I think everybody left the restaurant with a full stomach. There were lots of different choices, and we all found something we liked.

Finally after 24-plus hours of traveling we finally arrived at our hotel in Beijing, called the Taishan hotel. It is one of the nicest, possibly the nicest, hotel I’ve ever stayed at. We were all pretty amazed by it. While we were just standing in the lobby, a group of young Chinese people approached us and were dying to have their pictures taken with our team. One by one they jumped in the middle of us with huge grins and arms flung around our shoulders. We probably stood there getting pictures with them for 5-10 minutes.

Tomorrow begins our first day of sightseeing! We are going to the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. These are all things we’ve only read about before. I can’t wait to see them in person!

Monday, Day 2

This morning we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Tiananmen Square is the center of the city. It is large enough to gather one million people. The Forbidden City is the largest and best preserved ancient palace complex in the world today. It was built during the years 1406-1420. We were reminded that all of this was built by hand, which was amazing considering the intricate detail of each building.

This was our first experience of Chinese public bathrooms, which were simply a hole in the ground. We also had to provide our own toilet paper. One thing we noticed very quickly is Americans are almost like celebrities here. Everywhere we went people wanted to take pictures with us, or of us. Anytime we lined up for a group picture, there seemed to be 5-6 Chinese people right there to take our picture also. Kennedy [Curl] and I were fascinated with the Chinese babies. As often as the parents allowed, we tried to get pictures and pose with them.

In the afternoon we went to the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was the summer home of the emperor of China. It was surrounded by gardens and water. It was a very beautiful sight. The Temple of Heaven is the largest sacrificial temple building complex in the world. It was built initially to offer sacrifices to heaven and earth together. One thing we really enjoyed at the Temple of Heaven was the circular echo wall. We stood along the wall far away from where our tour guide was, and he simply whispered into the wall. It echoed all the way to where we were. He would say things like “if you hear me raise your right hand.”

Coach Hoover taught government for 40 years at the high school level, and he is intrigued by all the history of these historical Chinese places. He can always be found right in front, and I mean right in the face, of our tour guide absorbing every detail he has to offer us.

We have been eating at all authentic Chinese restaurants. We have gotten to try many different dishes. Most places will lay out 10 different dishes for us to try. We’ve all come to the conclusion that real Chinese food is not like American Chinese food. I think many of us would love to have a burger or a pizza right now.

The day definitely wore us out. It’s been a long, but very fun day of touring Beijing. By the time we got back to the hotel, almost everyone was ready for bed even though it was only 7 o’clock. Tomorrow we have another very busy day. We get to tour the Great Wall of China, and then we’ll fly to Hangzhou and get ready to visit our sister schools.

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