They are ready to go!

Golden Square PS Team China travellers have made it through customs without a hitch and are now sitting on the plane ready to go. For those that are interested in following their flight on FlightRadar24 they are on flight CA166. They depart at 8pm. All involved are excited about their trip of a lifetime. Have fun Grace, Amy, Xander, Charlie and Jasmine.

Pre Departure Day

The 2018 OSLE trip to China is rapidly approaching. As in the past, Golden Square Primary School will be hosting the Pre Departure Days. These days are to help prepare the students for their China experience, as well as giving them the chance to get to know some of their travelling companions. Pre Departure Day 1 is Wednesday 2nd May. This day starts at 9.30 am and finishes around 1. Pre Departure Day 2 is on Wednesday 9th May starting at 12.30 and finishes at 3pm.

Day 9 – The last day and then flight!

Took the opportunity to go for a run along the creek and down to The Bund for one last look at the people flying kites and exercising. Despite it being 5.30am it is full of people exercising, you really have to watch out for those backwards walkers! When I got back a few of us went to the exercise yard in People’s Square. Watching 93 year olds flip around on roman rings is pretty special. They loved having us there. We had a quick hit of badminton with the locals before heading back to wake the kids.

Our first stop for the final day was the Market. We hit it pretty hard and were getting some good bargains. All of a sudden we noticed many stores starting to close up and then some police came through. The store owners just stayed near their stores watching for the police. After a while we decided to head to Yangs for dumplings.  

After lunch we braved the heat and humidity and headed to The Bund for a quick look. It was reasonably clear but nothing on the days earlier in the trip. After some photos it was sadly time to head back to help pack the bus to take our bags to the airport. Just before leaving I tried to use my bartering skills at the Porsche Dealership, but they didnt want to give me a $500000 discount!

We left on the Met to get to the Maglev station. We were determined to make it there by 3.45pm because after that the Maglev only goes 300kmph instead of 431kmph. After missing the fast one last trip it wasn’t going to happen this time. We made it in time for the second last of these trains and it was amazing.

We cleared customs without an issue and then explored the airport a bit and then it was time to board our flight home!!!!

The flight home was a lot warmer than the way over. The girls slept well, the teacher not so well. The food was, … um …… Bad. Customs was quick and easy and most of use got our bags pretty quickly, we just had to wait for Zoe’s! We were greeted with some very happy families.

The Golden Square Girls represented the themselves and the school fantastically. They should be proud, they were a pleasure to look after.

In the next few week I will get the girls to do some reflection on their trip.

Day 8

Yes, sorry it’s a bit late

We packed our beautiful rooms and got on the bus to Tongli village. 65% of the Suzhou area is made up of water. Tongli is an area made up of buildings set on canals like Venice. We had a beautiful gondola ride around the canals and got to see some of the locals going about their day to day lives. Some were fishing, some were washing their clothes in the canals. One fisherman had trained cormorants to dive in and grab fish and then they would jump onto his boat. He had tied something around their necks so they couldn’t swallow the fish. Then he would retrieve it from their beaks.

One of the highlights was Mr King and I finding a decent coffee!

We had lunch at a restaurant alongside a canal. We were seated upstairs with great views. It seemed that the kids were starting to struggle with the food and much of the traditional Chinese dishes didn’t eaten, instead the kids filled up on rice.

After lunch we jumped on the bus for the trip back to Shanghai. It was a bit of a hair raising ride with a bus driver that seemed in a bit of hurray. We arrived back to the Park Hotel and got ready for the ERA Shanghai Circus. The trip to the Circus was the most crowded and uncomfortable MET ride we have had. And as you could imagine after a 30 degree day, the aromas were delightful!

Before the circus I managed to find one of the public share bikes that was unlocked and it was good to spin up and down the road amongst the traffic. The circus is spectacular and you sit there with your heart in your mouth the whole time hoping they won’t crash to the ground. After the performance I got the DVD for the school so that others could share the experience.

 

Tired we headed home ready for our final day tomorrow.

Day 7

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It was back to Xingcheng Garden PS this morning, this time with some additional schools coming along with us, a bit of a novelty was that the bus had two tables in the middle of it. We arrived to find the GSPS girls there after there homestay, they had a great night with their families. We got to go and do some paper folding and sewing activities before having some dumplings – Yum.

We got to go out in the yard and watch the students from Xingcheng do some PE and rollerblading. It ended with an Soccer friendly between Australia and China. It was probably the highlight of the day. Shock horror the game ended in a nil all draw, who would have thought a soccer match would finish with that score line.

After lunch we left the school and headed for a Kung Fu lesson with a Kung Fu master who has studied at the Shaolin Temple. The kids enjoyed it, but were very tired. At the end he gave a demonstration and it was pretty impressive, very strong. At one stage he broke metal bars on his head.

Next we went to the Humble Administrators Gardens, which are simply stunning. They are over 500 years old and set in four sections. There are fantastic ponds and rockeries. The girls loved finding different nooks and crannies to take photos from. The village outside the gardens is very nice, but very busy with scooters, you have to keep you wits about you. Whilst there we saw OHS at it’s best with people standing on chairs on top of tables. In fact there are a lot of things like that. On day one I almost got burnt by someone oxy welding whilst out running. One of the best thing about driving around Suzhou is seeing the was the way the traffic moves around.

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Day 6

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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.

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