Today was our day to visit our sister school Xingcheng Garden PS. Whilst it was cloudy this morning there was no rain which was good. Breakfast here at the Metropark was good, although I’m not sure ice creams are breakfast food. The hotel is beautiful except I always turn the wrong direction coming out of the lift to go to my room. I need to stick to going up one set of lifts!
We arrived at the school and went into the board room, it was good to see the students that came to Australia last year. We also had Big Hill with us. We watched a video about the school which actual featured some our school students. We had dumplings and after filling us up we were told it was only a snack, lunch was to come. We were worried we wouldn’t be able to walk we were already that full.
We ventured out to see the whole school recess exercise. The school has 1601 students and in the yard at that time there were about 1200 students doing exercises at the same time following the leader who is a student chosen by the PE teacher. We then went to a calligraphy lesson which was quite challenging, but the girls did well. The school is set over 4 levels and they have around 45 in each class. After a delicious lunch we headed back to the hotel where the girls got picked up for their homestay.
For me the afternoon meant that I got to float along with the other schools as I didn’t have the girls to look after. I took the opportunity to ditch the uncomfortable Team China polo. We headed to Tiger Hill which is the burial place for a former King. There was some pretty impressive bus driving to get us into some tight spaces. The pagoda (tower) is over 1000 years old. It is a very beautiful place but also sad as there is a rock there called the 1000 people rock. On this spot it is said that the King gathered the 1000 workers who built his secret tomb and then killed them so that nobody would know where his burial place would be.
After this we went to the ancient street. This is an impressive street with the buildings built on the water like Venice. In fact Marco Polo once visited Suzhou and called it Oriental Venice. The street had a mixture of souvenirs and food shop, I managed to fine a Starbucks along there. After an hour or so we got to experience the chaos that is driving on the roads here.
As the girls were off having a fantastic time with their homestay families I got to catch up with a friend who lives in Suzhou. The taxi ride home was an hair raising, especially with the combination of speed and no seat belts in the taxi. The whole trip cost around $2.60 Australian.