Volleyball team in China: Day 8

May 28, 2013

Ready to board the train.

This morning was definitely an early one… waking up at 6am was brutal but worth it.  We left to catch the China High Speed Railway train (Like the bullet train) at 8:30am to get to Tian Jin, which is a city about 2 hours outside of Beijing.  The reason we call it the bullet train is because it goes 180 mph so it only took us 30 minutes to get there. Yes, it really goes that fast but surprisingly you can’t really feel it.  If only we had those trains to go everywhere in the United States life would be so much easier. 
Once we arrived in Tian Jin we were picked up and taken to the Professional Training Center to watch the volleyball team practice.  It was cool to see their center because they also had professional baseball, softball, tennis, fencing and basketball.  The team we watched was their second team, which had girls under the age of 17.  If you were to walk into the gym not knowing what age they were you would think they were D1 premier college athletes because of their height and amazing skill.  It was a cool experience to see how a professional team ran their practice.  One of the drills they did is the exact same one we do in our practice except a lot more intense because they pretty much had the Great Wall of China blocking them, and by that I mean 3 very tall former Chinese men’s volleyball players. 
ESU and Nankai University teams.The coaches and administration of the Nankai University, which is the team we played later, took us out to a traditional Chinese meal that is very famous in the city of Tian Jin.  It had similar food to the other meals we’ve experienced but it was special because the restaurant was famous for its history.  In the middle of our meal the owner came into our room and started playing some wooden instruments which the team named “clickity clack wood blocks.”  Ping tried to tell us what they were called in Chinese but there is no English translation so we had to use our creativity.  He also started to sing about the history of the restaurant.  Even though we couldn’t understand the coaches tried to explain it and it was still really interesting because it was a new part of their culture we hadn’t seen or heard before.
After lunch we were given a campus tour of Nankai University.  We learned some more history behind the city of Tian Jin and how it was affected by the Anti-Japanese War.  Some of the buildings had been destroyed or damaged in the war, but the ones that remained are now protected by the government because they are part of Chinese history. 
Following our short history lesson we went straight into playing volleyball.  The first two games we played with our own teams and we split 1-1.  The next two games we combined the two different teams.  It was very competitive and fun and games until one of the girls from Nankai sprained her ankle really badly.  Ping had the idea to donate all of our ankle braces after the game because they don’t have the funds and resources we do to get them and hopefully we can save a lot of ankles in the future!
The girls were just as excited as the others we have met, if not more, to have us there.  We ended the evening having dinner with them and chatting about our cultures and learning more about each other.  It was hard to communicate so if you were to look at our tables it would look like were playing charades because we have to talk with our hands.  Probably one of the most fun things to do with them is teach them English words.  They try to teach us Chinese but all they do is laugh because were definitely not as good as they are with our language, it’s pretty bad but hey at least we are trying!
We caught the train back to Beijing at 8:30pm and hopefully we will get to bed at a decent time because tomorrow were hiking up the Great Wall of China!! I can already feel my legs hurting!  If there’s no blog tomorrow it’s because we didn’t make it… :-)

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