China Dragons – Day 3

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Today, the Great Wall of China was the first stop in our Day 3 Big
Experience. Some students walked (even jogged!) up the considerable
flight of steps; most chose to take the chairlift. Remarkably, street
vendors selling drinks, postcards, Russian hats and cheap T-shirts were
prevalent along the wall itself. There’s no escaping them! The seeing
conditions were fabulous and the sun was out for most of the day. Most
of us rode the toboggan back down the side of the mountain. The roadway
back to the bus park was lined with stalls…many of us purchased lots of
items including shirts, hats, knives and swords. Look out for us on the
next episode of ‘Border Security’.

The trip back to Beijing afforded us the chance to stop at the Olympic
precinct. The Birds’ Nest and the Water Cube were certainly impressive,
and the concrete plaza was immense…nothing in Melbourne compares to it.
Thousands of people were visiting the site even though nothing was
actually scheduled there at the time.

Before dinner, we went to the famous Red Theatre to see the Kung Fu
show. The many performers ranged from young boys who looked about 7
years old, through to adults. The show was highlighted by many
choreographed moves, ranging from ballet to semi-breakdancing, but
always returning to the discipline of Kung Fu.

We wished Stef Buntz a happy birthday today and a huge birthday cake
(hard to find in Beijing!) was consumed after our latest Chinese

We had a great day today and we look forward to an opportunity to spend
up tomorrow at the Pearl Market!

By James Durance and Tom Peters


China Pandas – Day 3

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Today everyone woke up at the same time as yesterday; it was an early start yet again. The day was once again exciting and breathtaking, with many new experiences and things learnt.

The day consisted of us travelling to Zhujiajiao, a water village, which is located in a suburb of Shanghai city.

The streets of Shanghai

The streets of Shanghai

There was a lot of bargaining and exploring for the students. Most of us were lucky enough to score new bracelets and other knicknacks for very cheap prices.

Getting ready to bargain

Getting ready to bargain

Everyone gathered for lunch that was not looking very appetizing at the start, but then everyone got into the different styles of food that was on offer.  Our time at the water village ended with an amazing boat ride through the canals.

Boat ride through the canals

Boat ride through the canals

We then travelled by coach to the French Section of Shanghai. It was to us a very different surrounding from the past few days. This is because it was Westernized to an extreme amount, making us feel as if we were back in Melbourne. We had to find our own dinner and successfully ordered delicious food with easy to understand waiters and waitresses.

The time then came to travel to the next French area. We split into groups and looked around travelling into different shops and areas. But the highlight of the night was then coming up, this was the amazing acrobatic show. With everyone on the edge of their seats, the show was definitely a success. There were some unusual talents that were displayed and shown to the audience. Our favourite act was the balancing of the chairs and the magician with the cards. The talent that they displayed was truly outstanding and entertained by people of all ages.

Today was another amazing experience with us revving to go tomorrow.

Overall today was the best day yet of many more to come….

Pip Rayner and Ruby Maddison

Thursday 30th October – day 4

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Today we woke up, packed up our sleeping bags and other luggage and got out of our tents for breakfast. Today’s special was bacon and eggs along with the usual cereals and toast. We then packed up our tents, noticing that we were slowly getting better at the process and hopped on the bus. We went through the historic town of Quorn and after Greg told us some information about the place we headed off down to the Kanyaka Homestead, where we hopped of the bus and had a look at the buildings and a rather interesting cemetery. We jumped back on the bus and headed off to our campsite-Wilpena. After a short break we went for a drive to take a look at the Flinders Ranges Museum (not a traditional museum but rather an open air museum). It was interesting as we got to see what the buildings looked like in the era. We headed back to camp and after an even shorter break headed off on a walk into Wilpena Pound. It was a reasonably hard walk but the magnificent view at the end of the walk made it worth it. We walked back to camp for a roast lamb dinner and after dinner headed to bed.


By Andrew Bartlett.

Vietnam Yellow Group – off to Mai Chau

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Today we will leave Hanoi for Mai Chau, where we will stay in a village and undertake our community project. We are all very excited. As we will be out of contact for the next 5 days, there will be no posts until we return to Hanoi.

Vietnam Red – Day 2 Hanoi

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On the second day in Hanoi we took a short bus trip to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. We also went past the One Pillar Pagoda. We then went to see Ho Chi Minh’s old living grounds where we saw his house which is built on stilts, which is an ordinary Vietnamese north western house. The reason Ho Chi Minh didn’t live in a palace is because he felt that he was no better than a commoner so why should he live in a palace. This is all situated in the French quarter. Later we went to the Museum of Ethnology. This was a museum showing the different ethnic groups throughout Vietnam.


We then had time to wander throughout the museum. We saw an example of a house on stilts that we will be making in the village Mai Chau. The floor is made of bamboo and the house was completely made without any tools, just tight weaving. After our visit to the museum we came back to the hotel for a quick rest then off to have a traditional noodle soup lunch, which is called Pho (pronounced fur).


Straight after lunch we came back to the hotel again and we had a longer break before going off to the Australian Embassy. We were spoken to by 2 people, one being from Foreign Affairs and the other Health and Education. We found out about the diplomatic relationships between Vietnam and Australia. After our talk we got the bus back to the hotel and we then set off shopping.


This time bartering was a lot easier and a whole less scary. By the end of the trip we’ll all be pros. We then went to dinner, again at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. Afterwards we went to the water puppets. We were all so tired we were falling asleep. But it was very interesting. Tomorrow we set off on our journey to Mai Chau to build the house. This will be our last post for a few days as we will be out of contact.


Mariel and Emily.


PS What a terrific bunch of students …..A joy to look after and travel with…….Mr T


China Dragons – Day 2

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Site seeing

Site seeing

China Dragons – Day 2 continued

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Please note: As this blogging site is partially blocked in China, this report on Day 2 has been emailed to me and I have posted it.  This is just in case you are wondering why it has my name.  I am in my office in Melbourne.

Our first full day in China began with a visit to Tian’anmen Square where many photos were taken! We moved on to the Forbidden City which was a remarkable series of ancient structures and courtyards that appeared to be never ending.
Lunch was extremely cool!! Unlike in Australia, we were served a variety of foods in a banquet style. There were many ups and downs to this as the vegetables weren’t touched (sorry parents) but we got to try a variety of different Chinese dishes. An unexpected bonus was that the bathroom sinks were VERY! interesting as sculptures of female buttocks and legs were the pedestals of the sinks. Many boys favoured the fishnet stockings in high heels. Woohoo!

We had a wild trip down ‘gross-out’ lane which is a market that sells exotic foods such as beef, snake, seahorses, scorpions, baby turtles and other unmentionable body parts of all kinds.

Crossing the road tonight in Beijing was, to some extent, terrifying. The zebra crossings mark a suggested crossing place, but the cars, buses, trucks and bikes do not stop for pedestrians. The saying ‘every man for himself’ was surely invented here.

For our meal tonight, we were given the choice to purchase our own dinners. Most people went to Maccas, and some braver students tried the local bakery, although no-one appeared to know what they had.

Tomorrow brings a hugely exciting day, and we look forward to the Great Wall.

By Julia Asvestas and Stef Buntz



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