My school does a great job of strengthening work relationships through various team building activities. At the start of spring, the entire kindergarten faculty, hopped on an early bus and drove off to a small chain of mountains on the outskirts of Beijing. My roommate and fellow teacher actively chomped away on the morning snacks that were provided by the school. With no hesitation we ripped open the eggs soaked in vinegar, the small pieces of packaged soy and the large cucumber. Other snacks, such as the packaged chicken foot, sat at the bottom of the bag just outside of hands reach.
The bus exited the expressway and drove along a dilapidated road passing by ran down buildings filled with friendly faces. People were out in droves cooking breakfast, selling clothes and enjoying the morning sun. It was the beginning of the spring and everyone was sporting their most colorful garb. it was quite a sight.
The bus eventually pulled up to the beginning of the trail and out we went . There was about 40 of us walking and chatting merrily as we ascended up the small ridge of the mountain. There were other people out hiking and enjoying the fresh air. Everyone passed by with a smile and a friendly "hello". The further we elevated the tougher the climb was and it felt good to get that type of workout outside of the city. The mountain was a nice get away from the daily grind of the concrete jungle.
Three quarters of the way up we spotted an odd looking playground. There were ropes to climb and swing from and monkey bars to cross without touching the ground. I thought it looked like a ninja training ground and gave the rope climbing a shot. The knots in the rope made it easy to climb the rope and come back down.
Instead of going all the way to the top of the mountain we took a short cut that winded down the back. The trail met a river and a small man made waterfall. With flowers blooming and the sun shining down it made for a nice place to rest and relax. The Chinese teachers pulled out their snacks that were also subsidized by the school. The teachers kept offering me food, but I kindly declined. However, two teachers kept peer pressuring me to try one of the packaged chicken feet. I finally succumbed to the pressure and opened the Chinese delicacy. I sat their sucking the skin off the chicken's foot to the melodious soundtrack of Chinese laughter. The foot was not so good, but I will never forget that moment.
After the rest we entered the back of the Beijing Botanical Gardens. All the flowers were in bloom and there were reds, whites, yellows, oranges and pinks as far as the eye could see. It was the icing on the cake of a great Saturday and team bonding experience.