Homeward bound…

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The year 9 students return from their Big Experience this Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 November.

You can log onto www.melbourneairport.com.au and go to the Flight & Passenger Information.  Either enter the flight number or click on International/Domestic Arrivals to check the estimated flight arrival or if any changes to it.  All students will travel by bus back to St Leonard’s Brighton campus.

Please find the arrival details for each outlined below:

Laos & Cambodia

  • Arrival:                 Wednesday 17 November
  • [7.25am:               Singapore Airlines flight SQ227 Singapore-Melbourne due to land]
  • 9.00am                  ETA – students to arrive back at St Leonard’s Brighton campus.

Vietnam – Red & Yellow

  • Arrival:                  Wednesday 17 November
  • [7.25am:               Singapore Airlines flight SQ227 Ho Chi Minh City-Singapore-Melbourne due to land]
  • 9.00am                  ETA – students to arrive back at St Leonard’s Brighton campus.

China – Dragons & Warriors

  • Arrival:                  Wednesday 17 November
  • [9.40am:               Flight MU 737 Shanghai – Melb]
  • 11.15am:              ETA – Students arrive at St Leonard’s Brighton campus


  • Arrival:                  Thursday 18 November
  • [11.25am:              Flight FJ911 Nadi-Sydney]
  • [3.30pm:               Qantas Flight QF439 Sydney-Melbourne due to land]
  • 4.45pm:                 ETA – students to arrive back at St Leonard’s Brighton campus.

Please note that the college website has the incorrect arrival details published for the China trips. Could you please spread the word of the above times to ensure that all are welcomed home with open arms!

Many thanks,

Luisa Ingram


China Dragons – Day 17 – Shanghai

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China Dragons – Day 17 – Shanghai

Today was our last full day in Shanghai and on the trip! We started off with one last amazing breakfast at the hotel, then set off to Zhongshan park for a photo treasure hunt. In groups of four, we roamed around the park looking for certain things we had to take photos of. On our adventure, we saw a big cultural difference between Australia and China. In China people enjoy exercise as a social activity, it isn’t something people struggle to fit in their daily routines but just a way of life. There was dancing with loud music echoing across the square, tai chi in the gardens, karate and many more different styles to choose from. A few of us joined in with the tai chi, I found tai chi really fun and different from anything else I had ever done before. After our treasure hunt in the park, we drove by bus to the Shanghai Community International School to meet our home stay friend. We were all very happy with who we were staying with and spent the rest of the day attending their classes and getting to know each other. Another difference between China and Australia is that at the international school, lunch is provided in a cafeteria, you don’t have to bring your own lunch. After the school day was over, we left the other members of the China Dragons and departed with our new found friend for some activities and fun.

By Enya Daly

China Dragons – Day 17 (part 2) – Shanghai

China Dragons – Day 17 (part 2) – Shanghai

Once school was over, we all went home to meet our hosts’ families. We discovered that most students travel everywhere by taxi, as it is safe, cheap and convenient in Shanghai. We set off to meet up with other St Leonard’s students and their hosts at Pearl City, which is a bit similar to the Pearl market in Beijing. We spent almost 2 hours shopping, and our hosts were able to guide us around the markets and help our bargaining to make sure we didn’t get ripped off. After this, we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We were pleased and surprised to meet almost the whole group there.

The familiarity of Western food was comforting and very different to all the rice and Chinese food we have been eating every day. There was an amazing atmosphere in the restaurant, and it was a great mix of familiarity and novelty; as well as gossiping between us, we were also getting to know our hosts.  I was surprised to see that a meal was all it took to make us feel like we’d known each other for longer. We laughed and gossiped together and by the end of the evening everyone was feeling confident about spending the night in unfamiliar surroundings.

After dinner we all went our own ways, and as a group we walked back to the compound where most of us stayed together in the same house. We watched a movie and calmed down before the rest of the group split up completely to go to their own homes for the night. It was a great night all round!

By Hilary Ekins

China Dragons – Day 16 – Shanghai

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Happy Birthday Ben Deville!

Today we visited the Tongli water village, a tremendous contrast to modern Shanghai. Our day started with a long bus ride made more enjoyable by the sound of a recently acquired guitar and our groups singing talent. Passing through the outer suburbs of Shanghai we began to see many changes and less modern influences in the architecture, our guide Coco told us all about how differently people in these areas live compared with others in the centre of Shanghai. We arrived in the village and moved from our bus to board some electric open air golf buggy. These took us through the largest street and we started to absorb the beautiful sights of bridges, restaurants, laneways, shops and water. We got off the buggy and made our way through the village to a canal where we boarded small wooden boats in groups. Our boats were rowed through the water by a local and we were able to enjoy some stunning scenery. It was a very relaxing experience. Back on land we walked through more of the lovely village and found our way to a teahouse for lunch. The second level where we had our meal was very peaceful and full of intricate traditional Chinese decorations. Following lunch, we were given some time to explore the village and do some shopping. We saw a Chinese musical performance for the public’s enjoyment and the music filled the main square with a great vibe. Wandering through the laneways we shopped for gifts and appreciated the time to go at our own pace. After a while many of us congregated under a traditional pagoda for a spontaneous sing-along with another new guitar. This was a great experience and put our group in a very happy mood for the bus trip back to central Shanghai. We had dinner at another nice restaurant and enjoyed way too much food before getting on the bus again to attend an acrobatics show. The performance was outstanding and included so many different talents and skills. The stage was alive with suspense, surprise, shock and strength. One of the most amazing parts was the finale, where a total of eight people were riding motorbikes at the same time in a round cage. We left the show and came back to our hotel to begin packing for the home stay tomorrow night. The day has been very long and everyone is exhausted, we need our sleep! We look forward to visiting the international school tomorrow and our remaining time in Shanghai.

By Olivia and Seonaigh J

China Dragons – Day 15 – Shanghai

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Shanghai was a complete change of scenery for the China Dragons. After recently visiting the scenic towns, Guilin and Yangshou we are in a busy metropolis with hundreds of skyscrapers, lights and 23 million people. We had heard a lot of hype about Shanghai from previous groups that have visited China for their Big Experience trip at St Leonard’s College.

To our excitement our expectations were definitely met. After a fantastic night’s sleep in our amazing new four star hotel rooms and a spectacular western style buffet breakfast we were set to explore Shanghai via public transport. Half the group took the bus and the other half took the subway. We met each other at the Yu Garden market which was filled with many restored old style Chinese buildings which was nice to see. We got some free time here to go and explore the markets. This market was more orientated on Chinese cultural items and novelties which a lot of people used to their advantage and bought souvenirs for their family and friends.

Continuing our journey through Shanghai we then all got the subway and made our way to the 230 metre tall Shanghai Pearl TV tower. It was a very impressive tower. We went up on an elevator and had a great panoramic view of Shanghai during the busy day. Tall buildings that made up the city went as far as the eye could see. We then went to the outside viewing deck which was made of glass, including the floor. This experience led some people to challenge their fear of heights. We then went back down on the scenic elevator to the wax museum at the bottom of the tower. This museum showed the history of Shanghai.

After this we then travelled on the under harbour tunnel to the other side of the river to the Bund. The tunnel was filled with colourful lights and sounds and was a unique experience. After this we walked on the Bund along the river and watched the night life go by. We then walked to Nanjing Road which was a walking only street filled with thousands of people and retail shops. Tonight was a chance for us to buy our own dinner and adventure through the shopping centre. After an hour of this we met with the teachers. Unfortunately some people did not get enough time because Nanjing Road was so big and busy. We then came back to our hotel on the subway and went to the pool for some relaxation and to refresh our minds after a very busy day.

By Ben Smart and Mitch Stringer

China Dragons – Day 14 – Yangshuo to Shanghai

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After a nice sleep in and breakfast at the hotel, we made our way to the lobby where we then boarded a bus bound for Guilin airport which was about a two hour trip. When we eventually arrived at the airport we said our goodbyes to Mr. Merrick, the charismatic guide who showed us around Guilin and Yangshuo. When we boarded the plane to Shanghai, little did any of us know that we would be stationary there for almost an hour! After our arduous wait we were finally able to take off and start the last leg of our journey.

After disembarking the plane and getting out of the airport, where we met our new guide Coco, we drove to a hotel right in the centre of the ebb & flow of Shanghai where we ate a hearty meal, which was nice after eating mainly only snack food for the past few hours. After that we made our way to a local ferry where we took a 45 minute boat journey up and down the river, which was consumed by neon lights and flashing signs, which was a nice change after coming from semi-rural Guilin. Many photos were taken and a few of us (including ourselves) took up the opportunity to have some professional photos taken by the ship’s crew, with a backdrop provided by the vibrant Shanghai TV tower, which helped light up the night sky.

After the cruise we got back on the bus, but only after managing to break free from the waves of vendors and sellers wishing to cash in on the influx of tourists. We drove back to our hotel, on the way passing the beauty and extravagance of the many skyscrapers and buildings which make up Shanghai, which made many wonder if we were in the same country as rural Feng Xian County or Baoji, which seemed worlds away from where we now found ourselves. After arriving at the exquisite Holiday Inn, we made our way up to our rooms to find ourselves in one of the best hotels we’ve stayed in so far. We were also greeted by the breathtaking views of Shanghai in its finest hour with the bright lights illuminating the night. We then went to bed to have a good night’s sleep to prepare for the day ahead.

By Harry Patchett & Nick Diamond

China Dragons – Day 13 – Yangshuo

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Happy birthday Isabella!!! 😉

Today we saw a side of China which many don’t see, we travelled through the very small villages of the region and came across the Li river. After we crossed the river by ferry we walked around all the housing of the local workers doing their day to day jobs such as tending animals, harvesting and ploughing crops. The farmers use the landscape to the best of its abilities for they only have a small amount. We continued to walk for around an hour until we came across a Buddhist temple. This temple was literally built into a cave, it was definitely a place that not many foreigners have been.

The Buddhists taught us how to pray by lighting the incense and kneeling on a small stool in front of the Buddha, this was an experience that I will never forget.  It truly felt as if this monolithic structure had to have been manmade but it had been created by nature. It seemed like we were in a different world in which everything had changed, it truly changed my outlook on life.

The housing in the area was something different. You truly realise the way that many people in the world have to live their lives. After this long and amazing walk we got on to the boat again and started to make our way to lunch.

The food in the restaurant was different, I recall multiple chicken heads being found in the soup, although the open walls and spacious room gave it a really breezy feel. Although many may not have liked the food the picturesque landscape was to die for, with the mountains surrounding us in every direction, with a small village to the west with a river between. This was followed by a nice trip to the local village. The village was a series of very small laneways with traditional houses. Some of the locals were sitting outside playing card games and some of the houses were selling a variety of produce. Many of the girls bought dresses and a couple of us even bought large fans that were around a meter and a half long.

Most of the girls dressed up for a night of fun, celebrating Isabella’s birthday. We all enjoyed a  great dinner at a small restaurant where we sat outside, except for being  constantly hassled by hawkers trying to sell all different types of goods from wheels that go on your shoes to DVD’s. This day was one of many enjoyable days during the Big Experience…  good night Australia.

By Daniel Costello and Andrew Barber 😉

Delay in posts…

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Dear parents, friends and wider community,

The China, Laos and Fiji trips are experiencing connectivity issues accessing the blog site. We hope this will be a temporary delay. Some posts will be loaded from our end but this may take some time.

So please stay tuned!!

Luisa Ingram

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