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


Warriors – Day 17

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A note from Alan Scott:

Today’s blog is the final one that we will post from China. The Warriors have enjoyed a marvellous trip, made more so by the willingness of students to embrace the culture and to represent their families, their school and their country with considerable pride.

I have enjoyed this trip immensely. Apart from the interaction with the students, of whom I am very proud, I have enjoyed a terrific working relationship with my team of teachers. Mrs Jan Wilson has been responsible for all things medical, and her patience, experience and wisdom has been much valued. Likewise, I am indebted to Ms Justine Werba for her outstanding efforts with the Big Experience blog. At times, she has worked through to the early hours of the morning in order to send through the information. She has also committed her own patient and wise efforts to good effect with this group. Both of these staff members have worked tirelessly, and it has been a pleasure to travel with them and to share my love of China. I am pleased to say that, together, we have formed a very harmonious group.

Today we asked the Warriors five questions and these are their responses:

1) What has surprised you about China?

Tim: The Great Wall – I thought the walk would be easier. I appreciated it more as I chose to walk up.

Jed: How Shanghai has the most concentrated high rise, but Beijing is far more spread out.

Blake: The food has been different to the Chinese food I’ve had in the US and Australia. I also was surprised by how green [the environment] is.

James: I didn’t expect the vendors to be so aggressive, nor the goods to be so cheap. I also didn’t expect as many people to speak English. I was also surprised by the extent of the pollution.

Madison: I thought the terracotta warriors would be on a much bigger scale and I thought the Great Wall would be higher. Also the pollution was less than I thought.

Liam C: I was surprised by the amount of people – just to see that and experience it. It’s also not very clean.

2) What was your favourite day of the trip?

Jo: The Great Wall because I’d only seen it in pictures and today I was actually there!

Emma: Tong Li water village – outside the massive city of Shanghai. It was interesting to see how people lived in this town.

Liam M-W: The Shanghai tunnel, under the Huangpu River, and the homestay with SCIS.

Olivia: The homestay in Shanghai because it was interesting to see how the kids lived.

Steph: The Great Wall and the homestay in Shanghai.

3) What has been your favourite Chinese meal?

Harry T: The Tang Dynasty in Xi’an was really good quality food.

Bevan: I don’t have a favourite but I’ve tried lots of different stuff – I tried dog, scorpion and starfish at Food Street in Beijing.

Imogen B: The special fried rice in Beijing on the Great Race day.

Isabelle: The Korean BBQ in Beijing – we cooked our own meal!

Imogen F: The Tang Dynasty Xi’an because they had vegetarian spring rolls.

4) What have you learned about Chinese people?

Hugh: I thought it would be more government controlled, but I’m surprised how much freedom people have.

John: I wonder how the market sellers can survive on small amounts of money from day to day.

Chelsea:  They don’t seem that different from us…they have similar traits such as friendliness and appreciation for every thing.

Harry P:  They are persistent, somewhat aggressive (the vendors), clever and sometimes devious.

Annie:  They are easily intrigued by foreigners and can be quite aggressive when selling stuff.

Rupert: They work hard. They’re constantly trying to sell you stuff and they don’t give up.


5) When you get home, what more would you like to find out about China?

Shaheera: Tiananmen Square and what happened in 1989.

Emily: The history of China – more of the ancient stuff.

Jason: The economic system – how the socialist system works. China seems to be a good model for this.

Simone: Chairman Mao’s life.

Lisa: More about the pandas and exactly whereabouts they live.

Sam: The Chinese dynasties and how communism works.

Farewell from China. We leave Beijing tomorrow for Shanghai and then we will fly with the Dragons back to Melbourne. See you on Wednesday!

The Warriors’ Amazing Race – Day 16

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Today we had a glorious day in Beijing. Not only did we have fantastic weather, but we also did a great race across the city. The Great Race is when each group is given lots of different tasks to complete. These ranged from simple things such as eating at a Chinese restaurant to buying obscure objects like chicken feet. First of all we split into three groups of ten with a teacher and a guide. Each group had different starting points. Throughout the day we visited the Beijing Zoo where we saw the majestic Giant Panda and many other exotic animals such as the Golden Monkey and the Albino Tiger. We enjoyed watching all the animals during their day-to-day activities. However we also witnessed the low health and safety standards in China’s zoos. The animals’ enclosures were poorly maintained.

Next we visited a local Chinese supermarket where we were given a list of many different products to find and buy. There were simple things such as a bottle of water and a can of coke but there were harder items to find such as green tea flavoured gum. We had trouble finding all the food, as there were two levels. The supermarket was crowded and stifling and we were relieved when it was time to leave.

At lunchtime all groups were supposed to eat at a Chinese restaurant. Our group enjoyed a delicious meal of Chinese delicacies. However Mr Scott’s group cheated as they only had one dumpling each and then went to Macca’s.

After lunch we visited the Bird’s Nest Stadium, the scene of the 2008 Olympic games. It was an inspirational sight for all, especially when Bevan East went south and planted his face into the track on his segwhay – a two-wheeled, motorised, stand-up form of transport.

The final sprint to the Silk Market was an intense battle between us and the crowds of people doing their Sunday shopping. As we are in our final days in China everyone is eager to spend the rest of their money. Everybody has taken the rest of their money off their cards so most went on a shopping spree.

Right now we are sitting in Mr Scott’s room at the hotel discussing who has won the Great Race. There are many arguments about who should have points deducted and rewarded. The majority of us agreed that points should be deducted from Mr Scott’s team because of inappropriate behaviour, mainly from Blake and Bevan. In the Bird’s Nest, for a photograph, they took off their shirts and it was probably only about 5 degrees!!

Today has been a great day and a ‘big experience’ in itself for all. The race involved travelling all over the sprawling metropolis of Beijing via subway, public bus and by foot. Leaving the hotel by 9.30am, the first group returned at 6.40pm! Everyone had a chance to interact with the locals and to see first-hand how a city of this size operates, even on a Sunday.

Warriors – Day 15

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We got up at 8am, headed down to our yummy buffet breakfast and left the hotel at 9.00 heading towards The Temple of Heaven by bus. When we got there we were greeted by hundreds of Chinese vendors. They were selling watches, panda hats, scarves, beanies, gloves, puzzles, postcards and many more things. The first part of the park that we visited was the Exercise/Dance section. This area was filled with many elderly and young couples who had decided to get some morning fresh air and exercise. There were many machines in the park like monkey bars, sit-up machines etc. We then made our way to the heart of the park and took a look at the Temple of Heaven itself. The building was a hand-made wooden (no metal at all!) structure that was circular and blue. The Chinese believe that the heaven is round and the earth is square (The courtyard surrounding the temple was square). They also made it blue to symbolise the skies and the heavens. Then we went to the Echo Wall – an enormous courtyard which is surrounded by a round wall 2 metres in height. If you stood facing the wall you could hear the sound of others that were also talking into the wall on the opposite side. As we were leaving the park we came across a old man practising his calligraphy on the pavement with a huge brush and water. He showed us how to write Australia in Chinese.

We then took a bus to the ‘Hutong’ area. When we got there we saw an armada of rickshaws. We were paired up and put into a rickshaw each. We rode the rickshaws through Hutong alleyways and streets. While we were enjoying our ride, vendors on bikes were coming up beside us and selling us their wares. Ms Werba and Mrs Wilson had a crazy driver and who swerved into other rickshaws as he drove along. It was hilarious! 15 minutes later we arrived at an old heritage listed home which occupied by an elderly lady and her daughter’s family. The home was valued at 20 million yuan ($3.3 million), even though it was incredibly old and small. It had been in the family for over 100 years! The lady then told us about her history living in the home and we got a chance to look inside. The house had a large cage filled with award-winning pigeons, a cage filled with 3 cats, a chained-up dog and 4 grasshoppers and AL OT of fish. James was met by a vendor who wanted to sell his silk bags for 25 yuan each. James then used his bargaining skills and managed to get 7 large bags, 8 small bags and some chopsticks for 90 yuan. Then we got back on the rickshaws and made our way back to the bus for lunch.

In the evening, we visited the Red Theatre to see the Legend of Kung Fu and most of us had some popcorn while we watched the performance. There were a number of dances and the story focused around a young boy leaving his family to join a school to learn kung fu from a master. We saw the performers balance their whole body weight on knives and break pieces of metal and planks of wood over their heads.

We then headed towards Food Street and we saw the street vendors selling all sorts of exotic delicacies, such as snake, starfish, scorpion, deep fried rats and sheep testicles!!. Bevan, Hugh and Tim sampled a number of different foods and survived the evening.  After making our way past the vendors, we made our way to dinner – Mongolian hot pots. Each person had a small electric stove and a pot of soup, and we were able to cook our own noodles, meat, vegetables and tofu. It was fun to try and cook using only chopsticks, as it made it very difficult to fish the meatballs out of the cooking soup.

We headed back to the hotel after dinner and had some time in our plane groups to prepare for the Great Race tomorrow. It is likely to be very cold and we have been told that it is already snowing at the Great Wall…

By Shaheera and James J

Warriors – Day 14

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Today, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the lovely countryside near Beijing. We had survived our overnight train ride. After the countryside we were quickly greeted by the smoggy metropolis of Beijing. The train station was much more orderly than previous experiences in places such as Baoji and Xi’an. From there we boarded a bus to the Grand Mercure hotel where we will spend the next four nights. Upon arrival, most rooms were not ready yet, but we were still able to attend the delicious breakfast buffet. The spread contained pastries, fruits and other delicacies.

After our scrumptious breakfast, we boarded the bus once again, to go to Tiananmen Square. Our guide tiptoed around the historical relevance of the Square. However, we got the gist of what happened. Some 20+ years ago, thousands of Chinese students and intellectuals peacefully protested against the government’s strict rule. The Chinese government then sent in the army and massacred the students. Standing on the Square we felt a deep connection with what happened all those years ago.

After leaving Tiananmen Square, we went to Wangfujing Dajie, a shopping district. We enjoyed a Korean barbeque style lunch.  Each table of five had their own hot plate to cook the selection of food which included beef, chicken, lamb, pork, steaks and vegetables. At first we thought it strange having to cook your own food, as it defeated the point of going to a restaurant, but we all had great fun cooking our meals.

From Wangfujing shopping district, we walked to the Forbidden City. It is called the Forbidden City because it was formerly the residence of the emperor and commoners were forbidden entry. So they called it the Forbidden City. Inside was magnificent! The architecture was majestic and vibrant. The buildings were dominantly red and gold. The reason for this was red was considered lucky and gold symbolised wealth.

We had a couple hours downtime after returning from the Forbidden City to the hotel. Some people went for a relaxing swim in the hotel’s pool and others just rested in their rooms. We were delighted to find that in these hotels, unlike some previous ones, there were TV channels in English.

For dinner we headed to Xidan shopping centre for dinner. At Xidan we had a welcome western meal at Sizzler, as everyone was getting tired of Chinese food. Although the mall was cheaper than Southland, the merchandise was much more expensive than the markets we have been to.

Today was interesting as we had discovered amazing events in China’s past.

By Harry Power and Simone Alexander.

Warriors leave Xian for Beijing – Day 13

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After our startling wake-up call (many of us had been talking into the phone before realising it was a computer) we hopped onto the bus to get us to Baoji station. We travelled on the fast train and were surprised to see some caves in the nearby hills which actually house people! Once we had arrived in Xi’an we caught a bus to the city wall. We could possibly have arrived more quickly had we walked, as the traffic was shocking. The wall was built a long time ago when the emperor of the period was told to build a wall to protect his family and city. The actual building process took a long time but finally the wall was finished. The whole wall is surrounded by beautiful gardens, moats and temples. On the inside of the wall the buildings are built using relatively new techniques, but outside the buildings are all rather old, with buildings built with pegs as nails etc. As we chose our excellent safe bikes to depart on, we took in all the splendour of the city.  During the ride, one pedal fell off, and one chain fell off about 12 times! James Mickle and Liam Bradley Steve Simon Brown Madden-Wellington are now expert chain fixers – their hands were entirely black! In fact our group got so carried away that we were about one and a bit hours late, and we almost missed an excellent Tang Dynasty lunch.

Hugh and Jason read up on the history of the Xian City Wall


Captain John waits to board the train to Beijing

When we arrived at the Tang Dynasty restaurant, we were greeted by two well dressed doormen at a glossy entrance. We then continued into our very avant garde buffet room. The buffet proffered a scrumptious range of western and Chinese dishes. The favourite was the spring rolls. We then travelled back to the hotel for a bit of down time and snack hunting.

Death by foot odour in Cabin 7

Currently we are on the overnight train to Beijing which will take about 11 hours to complete the journey. The compartments on the train hold 4 people each, and they feature controls for heating, lighting and an emergency stop button! Hopefully, no-one will have the need to press it…

By Imogen Frazer and Rupert Evans 😉

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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