We were picked up and escorted to the school at 8:30am and were greeted by the Principal and her assistant plus some familiar faces from years past. It was all very friendly with lots of handshakes and photos.
Afterwards we were given a tour of the school which was built in 2009 and has a current enrolment of 936, the least of our school network in china!
They had organised a school assembly and we got up and tried a few Mandarin phrases before introducing ourselves in English.
After morning tea we tried our hand at calligraphy – the ancient art of ink penmanship. It was lots of fun!
We ate our lunch in the school cafeteria with some students who have been learning English.
This drew our first day at Hanlin Primay School to a close. After exchanging gifts we were driven back to our hotel.
In the afternoon, we toured Tiger Hill and its tremendous pargoda. We walked around the gardens and then headed to the ancient street market known as Shantang Road.
What a very busy day indeed!
Today we experience our first rainy day – and boy did it bucket down! We jumped on a bus to Souzhou and met our tour guide Jenny – a bubbly Chinese woman with fantastic English!
The drive was very interesting as we moved through the outskirts of Shanghai and into the rural areas – funny thing was there isn’t really any rural areas as we know them. For the entire two hour trip, you were always in sight of huge apartment blocks! Very interesting!
After a fantastic lunch we went to the silk factory. We learnt how silkworms evolve to pupa and how they create the thread they eventually turn to silk. It was a worthwhile visit and it gave the chance for students to purchase some silk products at the end!
The real highlight of the day was checking into the new hotel. A mega hotel with a new standard of living. I’m not sure who was more impressed, the students or the teachers who were surprised with their own room! Happy days!
For dinner we were taken to a traditional restaurant in the Old Town. The kids have really pushed themselves to try new foods. Souzhou is known for its fish dishes and we tried some rippers, however the students didn’t rate the green tea that accompanied dinner – oh well!
An early night back at the hotel in preparation for our first school visit the next morning!
It was another stunning day here in Shanghai – our third in a row! We set out early to get to Yu Yuan Gardens – an oasis in this very busy and modern city.
Built 1000 years ago, it was designed as a retreat and place of reflection. There were many ponds with different coloured fish, beautiful big trees and lots of temples.
We went for lunch at a traditional Chinese restaurant and the kids tried some foods they had eaten before, which was great to see!
After lunch we headed to the busy markets and the kids purchased more goods. With a ban on buying more fidget spinners, we managed to get bags, hats, headphones, lego and clothing.
Later in the afternoon we went across to People’s Park where most days there is what we are calling ‘Umbrella Tinder’. Where parents go to find their sons a wife. They sit with a bio attached to an umbrella and they effectively broker a marriage! Very funny to watch!
We moved through the park to the outdoor gym where lots of older people were exercising and lifting heavy stone weights – some 85-90 years old!
For dinner we intended to go to a great Thai place only to find it closed after a belter of a NYE party that it apparently never recovered from! Instead we walked to another restaurant where we took up an entire floor. The kids ate braised pork, Chinese pancakes, rice, noodles in broth and dumplings.
Early night with a big trip to Sozhou tomorrow but with some rain forecast – perfect travel day weather!
We started today at the market, which our group was super excited about – time for some bartering! Everyone had a great time and we had an array of purchases including sunnies, hats, headphones and shoes. We were proud of the kids as they bartered on their own, going back and forth with strangers – no mean feat for 11 year olds!
After the markets we made our way to a dumpling house which was delicious! We then headed over to the insect market which was a real eye opener for the kids. Millions of fish, turtles, kittens, mice and squirrels. You name it, they had it! This was a fantastic experience and something that will stick in their minds for a while to come!
With tired legs we made our way to The Bund – a big pedestrian area that runs along the river. This provides a million dollar few of the cityscape but mainly people just wanted photos with our kids!
After dinner we made our way back to The Bund with the entire group as we headed for our river cruise to see the buildings at night. It was a calm and balmy night, which made for a pleasant evening as we cruised up and down the river! It was incredible (see photos below).
Once we got back to the hotel, everyone was knackered! We covered about 25kms yesterday so hopefully everyone is okay to go for day three!
After a Skype session over breakfast, we jumped on the metro for the first time and headed over to the Pearl Tower. We took the lift 290m up onto the clear sky deck. After milling about scaring the height-shy locals, we left and looked through the history museum.
After grabbing a bite to eat, we took the metro to the oldest temple in Shanghai – the Jing’an Temple. Pretty impressive temple surrounded by modern skyscrapers!
With everyone running out of puff we decided to head to the city tour bus. We rode it for two hours looking at a variety of incredible buildings and pretty neighbourhoods.
After heading back to the hotel for a break, we went to dinner as a group. We squeezed into a tiny restaurant and order a record number of spring rolls!
Upon returning to the hotel, kids retired to their room and the teachers retired to the lobby. A big day of exploring!
Yesterday was one very long day! The flight was fantastic. The kids were up and about for pretty much the whole flight but things really hit fever pitch upon hitting the Tarmac. Getting through customs was a breeze and finding our bus driver was easy too! Everything is big and bright here and the kids spent most of the bus trip to the hotel glued to their window! Once we arrived at the Park Hotel, travellers were assigned their rooms and although we had planned to head out and look around Nanjing Road, everybody was happy to head to bed.
Today we’re off to the Pearl Tower and then we will hit up the markets for a bit of shopping. Everyone is keen to try some of the local cuisine however not so keen to try dog meat soup!
The kids are through security and very excited to be boarding their first international flight! The flight is 11hours in duration so we’re all hoping the movies are working, especially Mr D!