I have been working for Landi for nearly a year (start date: 29th October 2017) and been very much part of the Facebook teacher’s community ever since. Landi English is one of the leading online real-time language course providers in China. On the 30th August 2018, Landi posted an advert for an opportunity to go to China and appear on Chinese TV and in promotional programs.
Here is a short paragraph from the letter that the teachers received.
Landi English will shoot a joint series of <Big National Brand> promotional programs with CCTV (China Central Television) around September 20th. We would like to invite 5 Landi teachers to travel to Beijing OR Hangzhou to participate in the promotional program shoot.
On their requirements, they stated that they preferred those teachers to apply who were already in Asia and were planning to travel to China in September. I thought that this would be an amazing opportunity even though I was in England and did not have a visa so I applied with a video audition anyway. On the 4th of September, I received a message with the other 3 teachers who were chosen for this dream trip. We were asked to sort out our visas by the 14th September.
After a few days of conversations, the initial 4 nights invitation turned into a 10 nights invitation of not only taking part in the video shoot in Beijing but also visiting Hangzhou Landi Headquarters, attending a conference, meeting students and also going to Shanghai for a night. Instead of flying on the 17th, our flight tickets were bought for the 18th September just after receiving our visas back on the 14th September. Up until the 14th September, I wasn’t even sure if the visa was going to come through in time and to my surprise, I was in China a few days later already. Even now it just feels like this trip was a dream as everything was so surreal and also very last minute.
I met the other two teachers at the airport as they were also flying from London. We were on a direct flight to Beijing and I did manage to get some sleep on the plane after asking the crew if I could change seats as the people sitting next to me were talking literally the whole time non-stop.
After arriving in Beijing, somehow we managed to exit the airport without going through Arrivals where Landi and CCTV staff were waiting for us. Fortunately, as I was only in Beijing a few months before, my phone got connected to the internet and the security guard standing by the exit talked to the Landi staff members through Wechat in Chinese explaining where we were.
We were then dropped off at an Ibis hotel pretty far from central Beijing and not where we were told we would be staying at. We were all pretty confused and weren’t able to get in touch with Landi staff members as they were at the TV shoot. As the 2 other teachers have only been working for Landi between 1-2 months, they were even more worried as we were only told this detail as a certainty of our trip, everything else seemed to be flexible and we had no other accommodation details up to this point.
I trusted Landi but wondered what could happen if they have even changed this detail. The other hotel’s name was on our visas and also on our entry card. The other hotel would have been a 5-star hotel and I was looking forward to having a swim. Our key contact responded after a while and she was also very cross with the change which reassured me a bit more that we were going to be okay. Anyway, we just got used to the idea that we were going to stay in this hotel for the next 4 nights and we were taken out for yummy dumplings for lunch.
After waking up in the morning, we were picked up to be taken to a 5-star hotel more in the centre of Beijing and were apologised to for the change. We (Beth and I) were free for the day, only the boys had to go to the shoot (the 4th teacher arrived very late at night all the way from Mexico). Beth and I decided to walk to a market and we ended up at the Silk Market and I managed to buy a strong backpack for 125rmb, thanks to Beth’s bargaining skills. Going back to the hotel was a bit more work for me as having a bad knee meant that it started to be painful but we managed to get back okay and it was lovely getting to know Beth and chatting with her. Poor Alex had to stay at the shoot until midnight, Elias left earlier as he wasn’t feeling well. We were a bit worried what the shoot was going to be like the next day but we had no need to fear as it turned out to be the best day of our Beijing stay.
We were picked up in the morning and driven to the Olympic Park as that’s where the shoot was going to take place. Fortunately, we asked if we could do our own makeup beforehand as they didn’t seem to have many options for doing our hair either. They wanted us to put our hair up but I managed to convince them to have mine half up and half down.
We started the shoot pretty much straight after we arrived. I was given a few sentences on what I needed to do and from then pretty much had to make it up. I had to pretend to be teaching a few children who were actors and actresses, we had fun and it just felt like I was something between a teacher and an actress. To be an actress must be hard work but I did enjoy it. There were various scenes and I also did the end scene with Beth together where we had to hold Landi and Sandi bear and say a few words. At the end of the day we went out to a hot pot restaurant, I am not surprised why most Chinese people say hot pot is their favourite food, wish there were more hot pot restaurants in England.
Landi organised a tour of Beijing just for us and we were going to be free on Sunday so we booked a tour to the Great Wall. On Saturday we had our own minibus just for ourselves, we saw the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. There were thousands of people everywhere and we could hardly move most of the time. The Forbidden City is huge and due to walking so much my knee flared up and it started to be more and more painful.
After lunch, I could no longer walk and I was tired and in pain so asked if I could go back to the hotel. The tour day was overwhelming with the huge crowds, at lunchtime people turned into pigs, if you didn’t push, you would not be able to put food on your plate. We left the queue and sat down, waited until there were fewer people. All the pushing did not make sense at all as after a few minutes there was hardly anyone around. The food was pretty horrible but we can’t complain after so many amazing restaurant visits prior to this. Jane came back to the hotel with me and the others carried on to the Summer Palace after lunch.
We were picked up very early in the morning by the tour company. The tour guide seemed to be very friendly at the beginning of the day. We visited Changling Tomb, we were then taken to a Jade Carving Factory where we had lunch as well. The lunch was much better than the day before and we were given some drinks as well because we got there on time. This is the first time when I experienced the tour guide turning worse when I was trying to pay with dollars as I was told that the tour was going to cost $25 and she was quoting a higher price. At the end, she gave me the right amount of change but wanted a proof of the message that I received on WhatsApp.
After we returned to the coach, the tour guide started to collect money for the cable car. I had enough money on me as I have asked previously whether I would be able to use the cable car instead of hiking because of my knee. The website clearly stated that the cable car was optional so the other teachers wanted to climb and not take the cable car, the cable car cost 145rmb/person. Once they questioned the tour guide and said that they did not want to take the cable car, the tour guide turned horrible and she reminded me of the ladies who scammed my husband and I 2 months ago in Beijing. She said that no one would be able to go without cable car and it was not optional and she would leave people behind if they didn’t follow her. She was pretty much shouting at anyone who would question her.
We were previously told that we were going to be taken back to our hotel between 5pm-6pm, it was 5:30pm and the tour guide said that first we were going to have a Chinese tea ceremony and we were going to be the last people dropped off. We did not want to take part in the tea ceremony (tea ceremonies were not a great memory for me because of a previous scam I mentioned), we just wanted to be back in our hotel as promised. As we were complaining, she got meaner and pretty much told us to leave the bus there and then. We decided to make our own way back to the hotel, unfortunately, my knee was completely flared up and without Nick, no one knew how they could help so I was left behind unable to walk.
After a while Alex came and helped me and we managed to find the metro stop, the other 3 teachers decided that they wanted to check out a market so I got off the metro a stop before, I was told the metro stop was only 5 minutes walk from the hotel, well it was a 20 minutes walk but overall, I am glad, I survived the day, it was definitely the worst day of the 10 days trip.
https://www.tourtravelchina.com/beijing-day-tour/badaling-great-wall-and-ming-tombs-tour.html– WARNING!! DON’T CHOOSE THIS TOUR!!
We learnt that we were very lucky to have Chinese people with us wherever we went except on this day, I am not sure if foreigners can get around China easily on their own.
Things I Didn’t Like About Beijing:
- Pollution (you cannot see the sky, your lungs feel very tight)
- Spitting (so many seems to be spitting everywhere even in the drains of a 5 star swimming pool)
- Crowds (the day of visiting various tourist attractions was really overwhelming)
Things I Loved About my Landi Experience in Beijing
- The shooting day, although it was a windy day, everything went really well, people were friendly and the day was perfect and fun
- The food, the Peking duck was so yummy, best dumplings of our 10 days trip and amazing hot pot restaurant
- Landi & CCTV staff: Jane & Grace and others from CCTV, they were friendly and caring and beautiful people inside and out
- Staying at Radegast 5 star Hotel CBD Beijing
- The Great Wall of China and the amazing view.