Location: Shanghai, China
The Acrobatic show was the undisputed highlight from the last two days. There were so many great sections; there was the 8 motorbikes riding around in a massive metal ball, the wonderfully happy men with their floating hats, not to mention to cringe inducing contortionist and the crafty plate spinner (21 plates). We had such a great night that everyone came back with a bit of a buzz and feeling so happy after seeing such a fantastic show!
We started yesterday with an early departure from Suzhou and travelled to Zhouzhuang water town. It was a fantastic view of how the water villages function with a special trip to the theatre and a residents house. It was exceptionally busy with the Labour Day holidays and the girls coped well with the crowds. Maddy and Emily particularly liked seeing how the people lived there. When we arrived in Shanghai we took a trip to the Bund to see the area and Susans highlight was seeing the comparison between the Bund (the English concession) and the new buildings of Pudong and felt she got a real feel for downtown area. After dinner we came back for an early night.
This morning we were up and rearing to go, excited to see more of Shanghai. We headed over to Pudong and ventured up the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Rachel, Emma C and Anna loved the time we had on the glass floor, doing jumping shots and push ups. Monica was particularly proud of herself in being able to cure her fear of heights and was happy to be walking around on the glass floor. We then took the 7 metres per second lift to the lobby and visited the Shanghai History Museum. Yu Hong really liked the museum. She loved the wax models and thought they were really well done, depicted life from ages ago, especially with the contrast between the rich and poor (rich ball room dancing and poor in rags etc). Emma L thought the Museum looked really pretty, it was informative, set out well and she learnt heaps. We then went on a river cruise on the Huangpu River. This was a great opportunity to see much more of the river side buildings and Srimoyee enjoyed looking at buildings, especially noticing the different influences such as ancient Greek, old Big Ben English type clocks and modern high-rises. Olivia said it was nice to see the Pudong area of Shanghai, after her parents came last year and she had seen photos. After lunch on the river side, we then went to the Yu Yuan Gardens Bazar and got amongst the crowds again. It was a great opportunity to see the city in full tourist swing with the Labour Day holiday. Emma O enjoyed driving around Shanghai as she loved how different the architecture is to NZ, with so many tall buildings and she thought the architecture cool. Annabelle just liked how different everything is, she said she came to see different things to NZ and she has definitely done this.
For tomorrow with our free day we are heading to the Shanghai Museum first thing and then planning to walk down Nanjing Road, stopping for lunch there. The girls are excited that they have all saved up some of their precious spending money, so we are heading to some markets tomorrow afternoon to finish their purchases.
It has been a fabulous trip and the girls have really made the most of this learning opportunity! As it is only two days from when you read this till when your darlings arrive home I will save the last day for them to tell you all about when they arrive. So this is an over and out (but I may try to put up photos if I can tomorrow night) from the amazing China trip of 2013.
Location: Shanghai, China
Busy day traveling from Suzhou to Shanghai with a short stop at Zhouzhang, a water village.
In Shanghai now and had a quick visit to the bund. No internet connection, so looking to update the blog tomorrow.
Location: Suzhou, China
Another fabulous day in China. Today we spent the most peaceful day of the trip so far in Suzhou. We started with going to the Humble Administrators Garden. It is the largest garden in Suzhou. This isnt a garden as we know it, but as our new guide Shaan said, it is more like a resort. Yu Hong described it well by saying how they are really beautiful, not just trees and gardens with flowers, but very tasteful and includes water, fish, different path ways, amazing planning and designs. For instance there was the one small area which had a round window/door for each season. Rachel liked how the Humble Administrator snuck in the shape of the dragon (which he wasnt meant to) by creating a corridor as the body and the main learning house as the head. Anna loved how we were still in a city of 8 million people but in the gardens it suddenly felt so peaceful with fresh air and was such a contrast. After the first garden we went to the silk factory and Susans highlight was learning all about how it is made and we even got to pat a silk worm at just 5 days old. After lunch at the factory we departed for the canal cruise, which showed us why Suzhou is considered an Oriental Venice. Monica just loved being able to stand on the front and see everything from the boat (as she loves boats). It was really stunning! We ended our day of visits with the Master of Net Garden, which is the smallest in Suzhou, but due to its perfect design, it feels like it goes on forever. Olivia reflected on its compact nature and the quietness, and Emma C just loved these gardens as she loves quiet and serene places. Emma L especially loved the impromptu lesson on ancient Chinas social life and learning all about how marriages were conducted in China at that time. The gardens were definitely a highlight of our visit to Suzhou. After dinner we went for another wander around the pedestrian area to fulfil Annabelles desperate request for Bubble Tea. Srimoyee really enjoyed the atmosphere and thought it was really cool, kind of a Cuba st mixed with the feel of the piazzas in Rome!
A beautiful city we are sad to leave tomorrow, but the excitement for Shanghai is reaching an all-time high. Stayed tuned for the next leg of our Amazing Journey.
Location: Suzhou, China
Today was a full day of travel. We drove for an hour to the airport, then flew from Xian to Shanghai and then bused for two hours to Suzhou. We went out for a lovely dinner and then browsed the busy streets on our way back to the hotel (which is really lovely). As we are now over half way through the trip, so tonight we based our discussions not around highlights of the day but around what the girls have learnt which has enriched their Chinese learning experience at school and differences they have picked up between China and New Zealand. This is what they said.
What they have learnt:
Srimoyee has learnt that you dont need to know that much Chinese to have a conversation. In a shop she managed to have a conversation about how she didnt understand the Chinese the shop keeper had said to her, but they both knew what was going on.
Olivia has learnt about the history of the cities in particular, especially the emperors and has found that really interesting.
Rachel has learnt the words awkward and careful in Chinese.
Emma L had a conversation with Mrs Herrington about the school and she learnt how China is different to NZ as the students dont contribute in class and there are no discussions. She also learnt how to say awkward in Chinese.
Emily learnt how important the history is to Chinese people, she felt they hold it in high esteem and liked how they pass it down through the generations.
When Anna was in the airport she was not confident to say what she wanted as she didnt want to mess it up, but after a few days she is less scared of making mistakes.
Emma C has really realised how big China is with lots of people and SO big. Mrs Herrington added to this with the Chinese saying people mountain, people sea which refers to the huge population in China.
Yu Hong learnt that when crossing the road you needed to do it with sas and confidence, you need to act like you own the road you are walking down, so this way people drive around you.
Monica has enjoyed learning about the history of China, SO much history everywhere. As NZ has a more multicultural and short history it has been quite different, here it is a long History and very interesting.
Maddy is much more confident with Chinese. She is not afraid of mistakes, they get over it. She realised you understand more than you think you do and when listening to someone she has been able to put together words within a sentence to get the overall meaning.
This year Susan has been trying to speak more, but she thought she would be nervous, but communicating has worked out better than she thought.
Annabelle has learnt quite a few new words to actually talk to people, especially when getting in to full long sentences she has had to stretch her vocabulary.
Emma O has learnt more words out of necessity. When she was stuck on the top floor she looked up escalator on translator (as she didnt know how to ask), so has learnt new words.
Differences that have stood out to the girls are:
Yu Hong mentioned the big difference she noticed was between how NZ and Chinese people behave, for instance when told to stay seated on the plane, they stood up and got their bags and it appeared they dont really follow the rules.
Anna has noticed some differences in the social etiquette, for instance with the haggling, she has had to stop putting herself in their shoes. Also on the road she had felt rude walking in front of the cars to cross, but it is the norm as there are no pedestrian crossings. Also, in relation to the food, she felt Asian food is much more interesting than western food; the flavours, the cuts of the meat etc. Also, she found it interesting going to ladys house in the Hutong area, the lady was so happy to tell us about how she worked in a factory, and their house, by our standards was small, but Anna reflected well on our happiness standards and what we feel we need to be happy, and our host didnt necessarily have those things and was such a warm happy lady.
Rachel thought some people sound like that talk aggressively.
Emma L talked about the way you deal with people being so different.
Srimoyee reflected from being on the streets watching people, how people here appear to be more touchy feely, or example how friends can often be seen holding hands with friends.
Susan said the smell of China is different to NZ.
Emma O has found it different how you dont say thanks and please etc. She worried when she was with her relatives, who has hosted her so well, she didnt know how to express her gratitude.
Annabelle has found it different how locals view and are interested in foreigners, being so different to in NZ. She has found people pointing, looking and we have seen a lot of locals taking photos of the group.
Emily talked about how locals here are really friendly. Here people smile and talk to you, on the bus people smile and wave. Locals enjoy having you here.
Monica talked about crossing the roads in comparison to NZ. Also, when you try to talk to locals in Chinese they are really happy you are trying. She didnt think in NZ we appreciate trying as much from foreigners.
Olivia thought that because there is less space, people really appear to be less self-conscious, for example, the seniors doing Tai Chi in public and community spaces being used in that way, she has enjoyed seeing this. She said she is not so fond of the spitting. We reflected as a group on some of the different ways of thinking about the world that we have come across in China.
Emma C talked about the different food being nicer. How in NZ we dont have as many different kinds, especially not so many varieties on the table.
Maddy liked the difference between the History in NZ (which is relatively short in comparison) and History here. Especially some of the history behind the words and knowing this history helps you to remember it more, such as the term for shopping being East and West as they used to have markets in the Tang Dynasty in the East and West.
Location: Xi'an, China
By the end of the day, everyone in the group was overwhelmed by how amazing Xian is! We spent the morning riding the Xian City Wall, then to a Terracotta Factory, then the Terracotta Warriors pits 1, 3 then 2 and finished the day with amazing dumpling dinner (we were all given at least 18 different types of dumplings) and ended the dinner with a Tang Dynasty cultural show. We also spent the day in unbelievable 29 degree heat. Xian pulled out all the stops for us!
Yu Hong loved biking around the walls as she enjoyed proving the statement correct about never forgetting how to ride a bike! Annabelle also loved riding the bikes around the wall (she was one of 5 who managed to traverse the entire 13.7 ks in under an hour, the others being on Tandoms) as she loved seeing lots of Xian. Maddy thought the Terracotta Warriors were amazing and Srimoyee recalled a project she had done in year 6 about the Warriors and was thrilled to see them in real life. Monica loved the whole day, but especially the cultural show and enjoyed how a little kid asked for her photo and then called her aunty . Emma O also loved the show; especially the second to last act that was a man who managed to make all sorts of sounds with his mouth and while playing a trumpet appeared to be breathing out for an exceptionally long time.
An amazing time for everyone in Xian and off to Suzhou tomorrow.
Location: Xi'an, China
We have had an action packed last two days. We started by checking out of the hotel early Wednesday morning and heading via the amazingly busy subway to Beijing Heping No 1 Middle School. The girls were so overwhelmed by the amazing welcome and response by the staff and students to our visit. When we walked in the gates there was a big electronic sign on the walls of their building welcoming us. We were treated to a formal welcome with the Deputy Principal and there we watched mini documentaries about the school. After that we were taken to a Maths class where the students were being taught trigonometry. This was a highlight for Emma L as she understood the maths (thanks to Mrs Brader), was able to practice her Chinese and she loved being able to compare how they learn to us in NZ. Anna talked about how the friend she made, Li Mo, was enjoying practicing her English, and where she was struggling Anna was translating it in to Chinese and they had a great conversation. Yu Hong was impressed how her new friend was trying really hard to speak in English to her and everyone around him was encouraging him in Chinese (thinking she couldnt understand) and when she replied in Chinese that she was from Malaysia they all cracked up laughing. Emma O loved going to the school and met a young person who was coming to NZ for University. Monica was overwhelmed how everyone was really really nice and enjoyed giving the morning exercise a go. Susan couldnt get over what great hosts they were and when the girls finished singing in Chinese, in front of the entire school might I add (which Mrs Herrington said was her proudest moment) one of the students had arranged another class to attend un-expectantly and she loved how everyone could understand her Chinese. Srimoyee said the school was really fun and thought it was interesting that the students were learning about Canada to practice their English comprehension and Olivia enjoyed the Basketball game as she won using her knowledge from her recent PE internal. Maddy summed it up really well, she said this was the first time they girls have really been about to practice their Chinese in proper conversations (not just haggling) and really enjoyed it! Annabelle was in her element talking with everyone and has really enjoyed the last two days. On departure the girls exchanged emails with some of their new friends and Rachel was over the moon to get an email less than 24 hours later. We then visited a different market and then headed to the train station for the adventure of the overnight train.
The girls all enjoyed the overnight trip and some got great sleeps. Emma C particularly enjoyed the train journey after spending a fantastic day with her uncle. When we arrived in Xian, we checked in to our hotel and after a refreshing shower we left to look at the Muslim Quarters, a long street with many shops and restaurants and then went to the Big Goose Pagoda. Emily loved the sacred feel of the area around the Pagoda, and how this particular ancient place has been preserved with all the recent construction in Xian and loved seeing the locals express themselves in worship while we were there.
After an amazing two days we are all looking forward to a great night sleep before we head to see the legendary Terracotta Warriors tomorrow. Tune in again next time.