China Travel Update

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The China group’s flight is now scheduled to arrive in Melbourne half an hour early. We’ll update this post when the students board the bus at the airport with an estimated time of arival at the College.

UPDATE: The China group is on the bus and expected to arrive back at South Road at approximately 12:30pm.

UPDATE 2: The bus has experienced good traffic and are now expected at about 12:25pm.

China Day 17 – Last but not least

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Never a day without the endless escapade of a street vendor, and today was no different in Shanghai. First on the agenda was a waltz down the prestigious Nanjing Road, famous for its many varied shops selling old and new items. We all had a lovely time exploring vast shops of international labels. Despite few of us having enough available funds for the high end labels, we all managed to have a great time. Discovering new Chinese labels was quite an experience.

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to go to a market to purchase those last minute gifts for family and friends.  This huge multi story market was enough to make some faint. Filled with endless stalls and shops it was a maze waiting to be uncovered. With lots of us buying the famous “Dr. Dre Beats” it soon became a must have and almost every student purchased a pair.

After dinner we attended the famous Shanghai Acrobatic Show. As everyone’s expectations were high from the Kung Fu show in Beijing our expectations were high.  Once we walked into the impressive theatre we realised this would be a show to remember. With death defying stunts, and never before seen routines it got us thinking, how do they do that? By pushing the boundaries of the human body these acrobats managed to pull of manoeuvres we never thought possible. Sadly the show came to an end, but there was one boy we will remember forever as he was more flexible and stronger than you could ever imagine. This was a wonderful last night in Shanghai and a very fitting end to an amazing trip.  This will be our last blog entry as we begin our journey home tomorrow. We look forward to seeing our families and sharing our experiences.

By Alex Fry and Marcus Stack

From the teachers

As our journey comes to an end, it has been an absolute pleasure to share the Big Experience with these 28 students. They have made the most of every opportunity presented to them and have remained cheerful and positive at all times throughout the trip. They have been a credit to their parents, their school and their country. 

Liz Ware, Craig Tyrrell, Nancye Banks 

China Day 16 – Shanghai

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We awoke to the now familiar sound of a phone ringing and the undecipherable voice of a Chinese wake up call. After a beautiful night’s sleep in our groovy new hotel rooms, we sleepily arose from the best beds we’ve had in weeks. The day was still young yet we were all looking forward to what we had heard was going to be an amazing day and what a day it was.

As we packed our bags for the 12 hour day ahead of us, we could feel the hunger setting in. When we arrived at breakfast we could not hold back our tears of joy when we saw the feast which was waiting for our hungry stomachs. Breakfast was complete with everything from Milo cereal to steamy pork buns. It was the banquet we had all dreamed of the night before.

As the clock struck half past nine we were well on our way to our first destination, The Bund. After a cramped subway journey, we arrived at Nanjing Road. From there we began our walk to the Shanghai river front, commonly known as The Bund. The Bund displays what many think to be the perfect contrast of the old and modern sides of Shanghai. Boasting old architectural feats of the British concession on one side and amazing modern structures such as the Pearl Oriental T.V Tower on the other, it truly is a sight worth seeing.

We then travelled across the Bund in an underground tunnel, featuring an amazing light show, to the base of the Pearl Oriental T.V Tower where we ascended to the startling yet awesome height of the viewing deck. The glass bottomed floors of the viewing deck challenged even the bravest of the group.

Following our nail biting experience we were then taken to the Yu Garden market where we were given a full 2 hours to explore the miscellany of stores that lined the area. Following another round table meal, we were treated to a breath-taking river cruise which displayed a night view of Shanghai.

Over the course of the day we students enjoyed the lovely contrast of what is Shanghai by day and by night. We then embarked on our tiresome journey back to our swanky hotel via subway. The importance of plane groups became a vital tool in keeping the group together through the hustle and bustle of Shanghai’s Metro. The hotel was a welcome sight as our group of 28 students dug deep to find the energy to drag their sore feet to their ritzy rooms.

What turned out to be one of the longest days of our trip also became one of our most memorable. The sights of Shanghai, by day or by night, are truly spectacular.

By Jordan Loschiavo and Oscar Garrington

China Day 15 – Travel to Shanghai

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Five o’clock, crack of dawn we are woken by the sweet smell of pancakes, croissants, rice and cereal.  The crew is tired, but happily we board the bus not fully knowing what awaits us in the new hotel in Shanghai.

At Lijiang airport the awakening soldiers board the small plane. Once settled and calm, what was supposed to be twenty minute flight, quickly turned into a two hour wait for salvation. During the delay the now fully awakened students pass time by indulging in some local cuisine (lays, ice tea, snickers).  The students also were relieved of all the stress and aggression which naturally comes in China by lazing around in massage chairs. After eventually settling into the plane and buckled in, the flight was over as we arrived in Kunming 20 minutes later. After our stop over, the restless crew were all squished into a plane; no T.V, no music, no personal space, nothing to prevent mental deterioration. A strenuous three hours later, no students lost in battle, all safely aboard a bus heading for the Holiday Inn Hotel.

We arrived at the hotel, but now hunger settled in, an invisible foe which can only be defeated by food. The teachers first realised the students were hungry when they began licking their lips at any form of food, including the most delicious looking of the students. But lucky for those kids dinner was on its way, a delicious feast of chicken, dough, rice, noodles and some sort of greenery.

Arriving back at the hotel the full bellied students passed the time by swimming at the hotel rooftop pool, working out at the hotel gym, visiting an electronics store near the hotel, or simply chilling in their hotel rooms watching Chinese T.V.

We are all pretty tired tonight after our early start this morning, but are looking forward to tomorrow. We are travelling all day by subway to the Bund, TV Tower, Yew Garden market and Nanjing Rd, then a river cruise at night.

By Cameron Cullis

Proof read by Jeremy Ripper

China Day 14 – Up a mountain

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Today we woke up to a chilly morning and went down to a great breakfast in the hotel. After we got our bags ready for another great day we got onto the bus and drove to our destination. We were heading for Jade Dragon Snow Mountain which stands at about 5600 metres above sea level.

After the bus trip we went up in a cable car to the viewing point at about 3200 meters above sea level. There were clouds in the sky but the view was still breath taking. We took a few photos then went for a walk through a great pine forest which opened up to a wide grassy plain where we took in the view from another angle. We continued to follow the wooden trail past the wind bell shrines out onto another viewing stage where the Jade Dragon Mountain was in clear sight. It was a great Kodak moment where we had our pictures taken by Asian tourists, it was hilarious. We then continued onwards to the cable car station.

We took the cable car back down the mountain then caught a bus to the amazing glacier lakes. The glacier lakes shimmered a turquoise blue in the sunlight with the high mountains in the background. We then skimmed rocks over the crystal clear water and made our way to lunch. We returned to Baisha village for another delicious Chinese lunch at the same restaurant as yesterday. Afterwards we returned to the Grand Lijiang Hotel for some free time to explore in groups, the old town of Lijiang. After checking back at the hotel at six, we went to hunt down our dinner for the night. We managed to track down Pizza Hut or KFC, our first taste of Western food in nearly two weeks. This capped off another brilliant day in China.

Lachlan Craig and Jared Ekkel

China Day 13 – Exploring Lijiang

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Today was an absolutely great day! After a good night’s sleep, we woke to the wonderful morning sounds of Lijiang. We left the hotel at 9:30am for a bus ride to Puji village. It took us around half an hour to get there but the time went very quickly as the scenery surrounding Lijiang is incredibly distracting, as it is right in the middle of magnificent mountain ranges. We then hiked for 20-30 minutes up a mountain to visit the local Puji village monastery. This may seem a small hike but at high altitudes and with thin air it was quite a gruelling trip. The monastery was very traditional, with red and gold architecture and statues. The group took photos of what we could, but in some parts of the monastery pictures were not allowed. The monastery is over 2500 metres above sea level! That is higher than the highest point in Australia. We then walked back down the mountain and through the village to get back on the bus to travel to have lunch at the Baisha murals.

The Baisha murals were quite a sight as they are over 500 years old and have not had to be restored. The building in which the murals are found is made of wood, with no nails having been used and has withstood several major earth quakes.  The entrance was large and colourful and the walls are covered in paintings. The paintings represent important things in life. One wall represents the religion, Buddhism. One of the others represents marks and success in school. The final wall represents wealth. Our tour guide for Lijiang talked about how her mother prayed for her in that room when she was about to do her final exams. This room used to be a temple where monks prayed but now it is just a tourist attraction.

When we left the murals we walked briskly for 5 minutes to arrive at our lunch destination. The food was delicious and exotic.  Next we had an opportunity to explore the Baisha village. The people who live in this village are called Naxi people and are one of the many minority groups in Southwest China.  We then travelled to the Yuhu village where Dr. Joseph Rock did his research during the early 1920’s through to 1949. Dr. Rock was an explorer who researched rare animals such as the red panda and various types of plants. He collated maps during his lifetime and took many pictures of locals. The locals used to think that when Dr. Rock would take pictures of them it was taking away their souls, but he offered penicillin in return and the locals then trusted him. Yuhu village is a traditional Naxi village in front of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Dr. Rock’s home was quite an interesting sight to see, we saw where he worked and some of the things that he had collected over the time he had been in China.

I guess the St Leonard’s motto is true, you do learn something new every day. This trip has been amazing so far and will continue to amaze we’re sure.

Jeremy Ripper and Lochlin Durance

China Day 12 – Dali to Lijiang

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After another amazing night’s sleep, we packed up our belongings and set out for a 4 hour bus ride to Lijiang. During our trip up a seemingly endless winding road, we had some great views of brilliant valleys and farm land. After an interesting bus ride, we arrived in beautiful Lijiang. Lijiang is situated in the south eastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau which is surrounded by Himalayan peaks and is 2400m above sea level.  The weather today was quite cool in the morning and then very warm in the afternoon with beautiful blue skies. After lunch we visited the Black Dragon Pool. Legend has it that the locals believe a dragon lives in this pool (hence the name). There are also many carp fish in the pool, which are said to be dragon babies. Strange legend isn’t it? We may not have seen a dragon, but we saw a fantastic lake. The water was so still the reflections of bridges on the water looked real.  If the pool wasn’t enough to amaze us, there was a park which spanned the whole length of the pool.  Willow and chestnut trees lined the paths and in the background is the magnificent snow capped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.  The park was so relaxing, even I felt like having a lie down on the grass.

We arrived at the hotel, checked in and then had a wander through the old city of Lijiang. The architecture of the shops was exquisite, but very repetitive. A bit like what was sold in the shops; scarves, horns, hair combs, jewels and the like were sold everywhere! There were even some music shops where you could play African drums called Djembes, Whistle shops that sold nearly every kind of wooden whistle you could imagine! There were many restaurants that lined the backs of the shops that overlooked a stream that cut through the town. The stream was so clear and fresh people were bathing in it. There were also a lot of fish swimming upstream. They could possibly be the restaurant’s Fish of the Day? After an orientation tour of the area, we were given free time to explore the area around the hotel. We then had dinner at a traditional looking restaurant in the middle of town. This was probably the first Asian meal we have had so far without a Lazy Suzan!

Today has been a fantastic day where we have learnt a lot about Lijiang’s traditions, legends, attractions and daily life.

By Max McConnell

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