What we have been grateful for…

As we are getting ready to board the plane home to Australia, our thoughts turn to those at home and we have been thinking about our trip and the many people and things that have made it wonderful. Here are some of those:

I am grateful for the tour guides because they have been amazing and gave us heaps of great information that you may not be able to find normally and they are also very friendly to us and kind. I’m also grateful for Mr Wells because he has been great to us all though the whole trip and I couldn’t have done it without him. Thankyou Mr Wells! By Kate.

I am grateful to have been able to visit and walk a bit of the Great Wall of China because it is one of China’s most famous land markings and is the only man made structure you can see from the moon. It wasn’t like what I expected, the steps were all really uneven and incredibly steep and not very easy to climb, but still lots of fun!!!  By Holly.

I am grateful for all the students at the Suzhou school because they were all really nice and always gave us gifts and tried to talk to us. At lunchtime we always played basketball with them and it was really fun. A student called Steven even brought a board game to play with us during lesson breaks. By Hugo.

I am grateful for the hotels because they gave us food and shelter, so that we could sleep and not starve. By Matt.

I’m grateful for Miss Milne for keeping track of all of our belongings: room keys,  medication and for updating the blog and posting all the fascinating information onto it. Thanks Miss Milne! By Mia.

I am grateful for the people at the Yu-Gardens Bizarre because they gave you the power to bargain so it wasn’t so expensive and you could afford it! By Michael.

I’m grateful for having the opportunity to try all the new and different foods that I would probably not get try or taste in Melbourne. By Ayushi.

I’m grateful for being able to fly all this way to Shanghai and seeing the World Financial centre. I loved bargaining at the Yu Gardens. Shanghai was beautiful; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  By Asha.

I am grateful for one particularly kind and helpful stall holder at the silk markets because he beat everyone else’s price and let us test the products for quality and practicality AKA headphones and speakers. By Hugh

I’m grateful for all of our tour guides for teaching us so much and preparing the entire tour with where to go to and tickets. Our tour guides were: Coco, Cherry and Lee. I have given many thanks to all of them and good luck in the future. By AJ.

I’m grateful for the teachers and students at the Suzhou school because when they were speaking during lessons some of the students tried to explain to us what the teachers were saying with their little English. Also when we were having a snack at the school or lunch, my buddy would always get my food or drink for me so she was very helpful. By Ivy.

I’m grateful for the silk factory and how cool it is showing us how they make the silk and seeing the silk worms do their magic!!! Also getting to feel all of the silk and how smooth it is. By Grace.

I’m grateful for all the students who made this trip so memorable in the way they have all stuck together and helped one another through the challenges. I am also grateful to all the families and friends back home that we will be seeing soon!  By Miss Milne.

To our families in Australia – see you all soon!!!

Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and Deals, Deals, Deals.

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Our last day of sightseeing began at Tiananmen Square, right in the centre of Beijing. Despite the drizzle, everyone was in high spirits as we waited in our first queue. Queuing was the name of the game today, as it seemed everyone wanted to see the same things as us. We entered the square and Lee explained all about its significance to China. Everything was enormous. After Tiananmen Square, we made our way through the many gates of the Forbidden City. We found out that it was called the “Forbidden City” because in ancient times all the common people were forbidden from entering it. After a long walk, we finally exited for a well-earned lunch. The Silk Market was our next stop and, once again, everyone had a fantastic time bargaining at the stalls. We finished the day off with a special hotpot dinner which was great fun, especially for our last night in China.

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Walls, Tombs, Palaces and Peking Duck

Ouch! The Great Wall of China. So beautiful and so steep. Everyone had a bit of a struggle with the steep parts. It was pretty much vertical. Some people made it to the top, while others found it too much work. We all had a great time and loved learning all the interesting facts about it from Lee – by Ivy.

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Today in Beijing we explored the Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs had several tombs where the different emperors were buried. We went to the Ding Tomb. Inside it was an incredible underground palace where the 13th Emperor of the Ming Dynasty was buried. The emperor’s song and the emperor’s son’s son were also buried there. It was a fascinating place to go to – by Ayushi.

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Third stop today was the Summer Palace, where emperor’s stayed during the summer time. It was grand and we ran into our neighbours from Camberwell High School. It was great seeing Miss Shen again too. Everyone really loved the bridge that was full of lions.

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The final stop was Peking duck – YUM! The chef showed us how to eat the pancakes the traditional way and then it was on. We had a real feast and it was a perfect way to end a great day.

Speeding Our Way to Beijing

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Today’s main challenge was getting on the fast train to Beijing. We lined up 10 minutes before the gates were open for checking tickets, but even so, by the time we got to our platform there was a huge queue to get on our carriage. Tentatively we waited for the train to arrive and then it was GO GO GO! We made it on with 30 seconds to spare and then had a leisurely 5 hours to enjoy the ride.  First impressions of Beijing are very positive; everyone loves the hotel and how modern all the buildings are. It does seem quite smoggy, but we can’t wait to see the Great Wall and Ming Tombs tomorrow. Not to mention the Summer Palace and, of course, the Peking duck dinner…it should be quite a day!

Leaves, Threads and Waterways – A Day Out in Suzhou

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We left the hotel at a leisurely 10am and set out for a huge day of sightseeing. First stop was the Humble Administrator’s Garden, where we were slightly mobbed by VERY friendly Chinese tourists. We squeezed our way through the gardens and while they were beautiful, we all sighed with relief when we left because of the sheer number of people! Next stop was lunch, then the number one silk factory in Suzhou. The silk factory was fascinating and the tour guide, Cherry, showed us exactly how silk is made into fabric and quilts. We got to watch the whole process from tiny silkworm to finished product. From the silk factory, we had a slow walk through the Master of Nets garden, which was lovely and much less crowded than our experience in the morning. We then caught a city boat to Tiger Hill via Shantang Canal. Everyone loved the boat ride which took us through tiny canals and past traditional homes and shops. Our final stop before dinner was Tiger Hill, a spectacular place full of stories. Whew! What a day.

Final day

The last day at the Suzhou school was filled with mixed emotions. The excitement of a basketball tournament at lunchtime, the fun of exchanging small gifts and email addresses, the patience of making puzzles and the memories of the farewell ceremony. At the end of the day we bid goodbye to our new friends and left for the final time. As we were walking to dinner we saw a beautiful sunset which was a lovely way to finish what had been a very happy visit.

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Leaving the Suzhou school

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At the farewell ceremony, the Suzhou school made us reflect on our time with a short video with pictures of our experiences. The Grade 5 Young Pioneers sang us a beautiful song to finish off the ceremony. The school gave each of us a picture of us with their students. The school was great and welcoming. Hugh and AJ showed the school how they can complete a Rubik’s cube and they were all amazed. We all enjoyed the school and now have great memories there. The goodbye ceremony was a nice way to reflect on our times and memories at our sister school in Suzhou – by Kate

The Cool Ruler

At the Suzhou school I made two friends, Justin and Philip, who showed me a game called the ruler game. In a random order, you will flick your ruler to hit other rulers off while trying to keep your on. The last one standing wins. Everyone was playing this game and then they included me. It is more fun than it sounds and they kept telling me I had a cool ruler – by AJ.

Dancing in the park

After dinner on Tuesday we went for a little walk in the park and there appeared to be some kind of celebration with flash mobs, lights and music. It was really spectacular and we tried to join in with the dancing. It was hard but really fun. Also people were flying super high kites with lights you could see kilometers away – by AJ.