Pearl Tower and home

The sun shone and we were greeted to blue skies for our last day in Shanghai.

Would you be game enough?

Our vantage point, for amazing views of the city, was the Pearl Tower. Most were game enough to walk onto the glass. However for one unlucky Chinese guy his friends assisted him in overcoming his fear of heights by grabbing and dragging him onto the glass floor.

After a brief stop at the market we were back on the underground rail to ride the Maglev. 431 km / hr was the top speed as we approached the airport for our return to Aus.

What an amazing experience we’ve all had over the past 20 days. It will be an adventure remembered for the rest of our lives. Thank you to the GSPS students who displayed our school values on a daily basis.

I wonder where your next flight will take you?

Farewell Xincheng Gardens PS and Souzhou

What an entrance to our motel!

Today we said seeya to Xincheng Gardens PS. GSPS were invited to exchange gifts with a grade 2 class and also sang ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’.

GSPS students participated in a music lesson where they were able to contribute by reading a poem and the Chinese students were asked to guess the name of the poem. At the conclusion, we listened to some talented pianist’s. Of course my contribution received the most applause with my own interpretation of Bach, symphony no.6 in D minor.

Correct answer Grace.

We were part of the schools 20 year celebration by signing a board at the entrance, especially reserved for special guests. It was then onto the oval to observe rehearsals for their upcoming performance on World Children’s Day.

Best wishes from GSPS

It was great to see GSPS students mingling with Chinese students and even exchanging contact details.

With the homestay finished we packed again and headed off to Shanghai. The main activity for the evening … a river boat cruise. I’ll let the pictures do the talking …


Last night students stayed with their homestay families. All students experienced what it’s like to live in Souzhou. From bowling, meeting family members, ice skating and trying chicken feet, GSPS students certainly had a night they’d never forget.

Today we observed sport at Xincheng Gardens PS … rollerblading! GSPS students also participated in skipping and a paper cut art lesson.

Rollerblading at Xincheng Gardens PS

Art class

We were soon back on the bus and on our way to Tiger Hill. With over 2500 years of history, there were many wonderful stories to hear. If there was ever a place where you could sit back and look at the scenery around you, then this was it.

GSPS students spend their 2nd night with their homestay families. Have fun.

Day 6

We were formally welcomed at Xincheng Gardens PS by the principal. Gifts were exchanged and we completed a tour of the school. 1800 students that start at 8 am and finish at 3:30. Numerous activities including rollerblading as part of the curriculum. They even have a special room for Skating. Oh I forgot to mention that the Primary school has their own museum and remote control car racing room.


After our school trip we walked around the Administrative Gardens.


Xincheng Gardens PS

Art work by Xincheng students

Kung Fu skills

Administrative Gardens

Continuing friendships with our sister school


Day 5

Tong Li boat ride

Today we visited the Tong Li water town. Our Chinese guide, Michael, called it the little Venice of China. Wow, what a relaxing experience it was. It was almost like we were in a movie set as we gracefully floated along the canal looking up at all the ancient buildings and overhanging trees. Our boat driver managed to paddle and text at the same time. How he didn’t drop his phone into the canal I’ll never know.

3/4 W students will be disappointed that I was unable to catch one of the 100 or so goldfish in the garden pond for our class fish tank… sorry.

After our small boat ride along the canal we explored the elaborate gardens and then the market.

Oysters could be opened, pearls extracted, and then earrings, bracelets or necklaces made.

As we traveled the streets we stumbled across a small store run by an old Chinese man and his wife. For 20 Yuan you had 10 shots to win a prize. All GSPS students threw with precision and scored various trinkets and toys.

Shanghai markets

Day 4

Market day

.太亲爱的. ,’tài qīn ài de’ (too dear) everyone said today as we bargained with vendors at the market. From shoes to Chinese tokens. many things were available to buy. Everyone had their own story to tell as we chatted over won tong, rice, dumplings, duck and french fries … Hmmm not sure how that got slipped into our order.

After a quick stroll through Beijing gardens and an impromptu dance in the street with locals we were back into travel mode and off too Suzhou.

Shanghai Garden

Shanghai and Circus Spectacular

Day 3
All students have been very patient in dealing with a delay to our flights.
We arrived safely in Shanghai today. GSPS students loved the free interactive rollerblading game at the airport. They thought it would be a good addition to the gym at school. Hmmm perhaps they can take that one to JSC. Shanghai has a history of over 700 yrs. The architecture of the buildings are all different with a mixture of Chinese and Western style buildings.

Did someone say circus? When we were told by our guide that it was one of the most amazing shows he’d ever seen … we thought okay. Okay is far from the right word to describe it. Splendiferous is probably closer. These most amazing people danced, jumped, juggled and put their body at enormous risks to entertain all.


The Great Wall

Day 2 – The Great Wall of China
‘All in all your just another brick in the wall’ . We started counting the bricks but lost count after 30 000 … sorry. We probably took just as many steps today walking along the wall. The Chinese were pretty serious on keeping the rabbits out. Must have some big rabbits too?

How’d we get up there? Chairlift of course. Ahhh … and for the way back down? Toboggan! As most of us had watched the movie ‘Cool Runnings’, this was not a problem. Except for when you lose a hat halfway down the ride. We were encouraged all the way by our toboggan guides to ‘Go Raster’ … Whatever that means?


Brilliant Beijing

Arrival in Beijing

Day 1 – The Forbidden City
Zzzzz … How much sleep did you get on the plane was the big question of the morning. A smooth flight + customs check then bus ride for another hour straight to The Forbidden City. A little bit bigger than your average 1/4 acre block was the order of the day for the king of China and his family, friends and servants. Getting from room to room was a hike indeed. Obviously had to be pretty fit back then or maybe the king had some people to carry him. After a hot walk we celebrated our first day tour with ice creams, much to everyones delight.

Ice creams all round at The Forbidden City

Next on the agenda was a race around the oldest section of Beijing on Rickshaws. Our rider was not quite up to Tour de France standard but made up time through the corners and making his way through impossible gaps.

Tour de Beijing

‘And they were Kung Fu fighting’ … Kung Fu master Splinter then invited us into his home and showed us how to make ‘ double happiness’ paper cuts. Yep, we were all thinking the same as you. The thought of someone cutting our fingers with paper wasn’t that appealing. Luckily we were wrong. Turns out it was paper craft. We all followed the steps and made ‘double happiness’ paper cuts. Not only was this guy a true Kung Fu warrior but he played an ancient Chinese harp for us as well. Turns out his son has been in movies with Jackie Chan … But no one was game enough to question him if this was really true.

Kung Fu Master

Kung Fu Master

We’ll never complain about traffic in Bendigo again after being in a constant traffic jam with 23 million others, trying to navigate the streets of Beijing.

Sooo hungry!

Due to the big day yesterday + some delays to our trip today, this has been the first real chance for me to communicate via the blog. Apologies to those who were expecting something sooner, but these things happen when travelling overseas.

A big thank you to Mr Freer for not only completing a blog post but also assisting with communication of changes to our itinerary.