China in their hands at British Museum

The Upper Remove Mandarin trip to the British Museum and Chinatown introduced Year 11 pupils to fascinating aspects of Chinese history and culture … as well as the small wonders of dim sum and bubble tea. Pupil Finn Kjaergaard tells all.

By Finn Kjaergaard

It felt like we had been duped when Ms Wu said we were going on a trip to “China … town”. You could feel the room go from something like elation to that feeling you get when it’s cold and you haven’t slept enough. But when we took the Tube last Tuesday (8th November) there was excitement in the group nevertheless.

We got to the British Museum, that great Greek temple, those vast white columns, and met our tour guide: a lovely Chinese lady, fully prepared to educate us about the history of jade, the dynasties of Ancient China, traditional Chinese house and temple design, and anything else that she could fit into the hour-long session; she was also equipped with headsets, so afterwards our right ears rung with all things China.

The China Collection was a wonder: there were hallways of tiny ornate green teapots made by small hands more intricate than a machine. There were walls covered with bronze swords that must have chopped many a head in their time. There was even a room kept dark to protect an ancient scroll holding the secret to everlasting life … well, not really, but it was still unbelievable to think that someone had drawn that bear, that mountain, that facial expression, so clearly, so humorously; how?

Too soon we had bid farewell to our tour guide, and we eventually made our way to a small restaurant in Chinatown – Imperial China – that had a shopfront like some sort of smelly British pub, complete with neon sign. But as soon as we stepped through there were statues of lions guarding the door, red everywhere, a bridge over a stream with a coy pond – great orange fish beneath our feet – and then a huge carpeted room with round tables and lots of people talking quietly. We ordered dim sum and ate everything we could. And was it delicious! If you go, be sure to get the pork dumplings with soup in them. They are very hot; you have been warned!

To top it all off, we got bubble tea from the best place I’ve ever tried. There was even a contraption to tell your fortune; mine was “bad things are in store for your future” so maybe that lowers its prestige a little. Altogether though a fabulous trip, organised by Ms Wu and Miss Maggioni, that combined culture with delicious food and a great time.

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