After a long flight and bus ride, students from our Sister School Xingcheng Garden PS arrived in Bendigo. They were greeted with sunny weather after leaving Suzhou which is approaching winter. Lisa, Jennifer and Emily are being hosted by students from GSPS. The other Xingcheng students are staying with families from Camp Hill PS.
Today we went to our sister school in Suzhou, it was really cool to experience the differences between our school and their school. When we were there we had a tea ceremony and did some Chinese calligraphy after we went back to the hotel and got ready to go with our home stay. Ebony and I went with the same home stay her name was Angela. We went to an old street and did some traditional painting, it was kind of like when we did the calligraphy. We also did some pottery and got an ice cream, mine was really cool because it was in a blue cone with fruit loops around it and the ice cream had a drizzle of maple syrup and a sugar cookie on top. We went out for dinner at a restaurant and I tried ducks tongue and it kind of looked like it had eyes and legs. When we had finished dinner we went back to her place. She lived in an apartment and it was quite small comparing to some of the houses in Australia.
In the morning we had dumplings for breakfast and had to leave the house at 7:20 so we could get to the School early. In China school starts at 7:40, when we got there we met up with all the other students who had done an over night stay at someone’s house. Later that Day we did some craft activities and were lucky enough to get to go outside and play a soccer match, it was like China vs Australia and it was heaps of fun, we gave out some gifts and went back to our hotel to pack for tomorrow because we were going back to Shanghai.
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.
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.
We got ready to leave for Shanghai. Our tour guide, Rose, said we weren’t going directly to Shanghai, first we were stopping at this ancient water town called Tong Li. We went to the gardens hPa day Rose and the other tour guide told us to get into groups of five or six. In my group there was Ebony, two girls from Maiden Gully called Milana and Sasha, and two girls from another school. Our task: to find the five pictures on a piece of paper. There was a decorative stone floor(easy), a window(also easy), a rooftop (semi-hard), a door that looked like a vase (hard), and a painting (HARDEST THING POSSIBLE). Anyway, our group didn’t finish first nor last. Then we went on a river cruise, the limit was six a boat, we only had five so Mr Freer got Milana to join us. Then when it finished we waited for the rest of Maiden Gully before going to find an ice cream store (it was very hot). We found one and then went and waited for the tour guides. Then we had lunch before going back to board the bus. We drove to the Park Hotel, Shanghai. Then we got off, grabbed our suitcases, and waited to see what room we were in. Then we went upstairs.
At five we come down for tea, Mr Freer said we were having McDonalds because they didn’t know how long the food at a restaurant would take, then we got on the line one Met to get to Shanghai Circus World. We then went and had a look around a square for half an hour, we were meant to meet at seven and it was only 6:30. When we were allowed in, we got popcorn, lollies and drinks before going and getting good seats. At 7:30 the show started. There was this lady who was balancing on one hand, doing things like handstands and swapping hands. Then these ladies on bicycles came out. One was going backwards in the middle of the ring doing a mono. Then the other ladies come back out and they were doing things on their bikes like handstands on their handlebars. Then 3 bikes left, and four ladies so there were three bikes and five ladies. Two ladies had a ladies with them and they were doing front flips to the bike in front and back to the one behind. Then there was this man who stacked rings on a trailer and then men were doing flips and the sort through them. There were more cool stuff, but I can’t really remember them. At the end they had not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7, but 8 motorbike riders going around in the metal cage thing at ONCE. That was just Unreal. Then after the show finished we got the met back to People’s Square and went to the hotel to pack our bags properly before going to bed.
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.
As Zoe and I woke up, we had to get dressed and get ready for our big day because we were going to school and I was excited to do some lessons, at 7:20 we had to leave the house to go to school, when we got to school we went to the meeting room ready to start the day for us new kids, then we went a made some sticky rice, it was hard to make, I made 2, after that we got to go aside and play for a little while, it was boring because it was so hot and so me and 2 other girls sat in the shade talking to each other, then the music went and we had to go back to the meeting room, at the meeting room we got some food like pizza, dumplings and some other ok kinds of food then we went down stairs to have some photos taken once we had our photos taken I and some other kids handed out some gifts for people and I was getting so surrounded with lots of people that I had like no room to move and till I ran out of gifts to give out so then I ran back up to the meeting room to put the bag of gifts away then it was time to go back to the hotel and go to have some kong fu lessons, that was fun, but the kong fu lessons were hard to do and also so confusing to do but it was still fun, once the kong fu lessons were over we went to the gardens and we got a ice-cream there, the gardens were really cool, I loved the gardens, we stayed there for about an hour and a half an then we went out for dinner witch I had like lots of rice there because I didn’t really like anything else, after dinner we went back to the hotel and we all had a shower and then we all went to bed ready for the next big day.
In the morning Zoe and I got our bags packed ready to go to Angela’s school to see her and then after school she will come pick Zoe and I up from the hotel were Zoe and I are staying at. As soon as we got to the school we did some painting and we wrote our names in Chinese, it was really fun, because we had to have partners so we all got to meet someone new witch I like because I got to meet someone and she was really nice then we had to go back to the hotel ready for Angela to come and pick us up. At 2:00pm we were both ready at the front of the hotel ready to go to Angela’s house for the night, Zoe and I were so excited, we both couldn’t wait for our sleepover at Angela’s house. When we saw Angela and her dad we said goodbye to everyone and hoped in the car ready to meet Sophie, Phoebe and Georgia at pin gang road.
When we got there we all got ice-creams and then after that we went to go look around the shops there, we found a pottery place were we could make some pottery and I thought it was awesome because I had never done pottery before and I thought I was really good at it and it was really fun to make, then after we all made some pottery we went on a small boat down a small skinny lake witch I thought was really fun to do because lots of people was waving at us and watching as go past them as they was walking along the footpath, after about half an hour we got another ice-cream and as we ate our ice-creams we also got a ride on like a little carriage by a man on a bike bulling us, it was fun. For dinner we had another mixture of food and we ate with two of Angela’s friends and Sophie with Phoebe and Georgia also came and had dinner with us to, dinner was ok like it wasn’t that great but it was still ok, after dinner we all said goodbye and then we all left to go back home, when Zoe and I got to Angela’s house we had a shower and then we went to bed.
Woke up early today so that we Skype the school. When we were on the Skype call answered questions and talked about how China was going after the call we went to Starbucks and had our breakfast. After we gathered all the bags and waited for our bus to come because today we were going to Suzhou when the bus arrived we hopped on. The ride was about 2 hours though 3/4 in we went to the silk museum, it was really cool because we got to see the whole process of making silk we also got to go into a shop and have a chance to buy some. Then we finished driving to the hotel picked up our bags and found what room we were in and got to relax for a bit. Later we went to bed
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.