After a long (but smooth) journey, we arrived safely in Yangzhou and checked into our hotel. The service station lunch on the way up was an interesting introduction to Chinese food and toilets!

We ate a welcome banquet at the hotel with blue eggs and chicken feet! We then took a walk down a very traditional Chinese shopping street - many souvenirs were bought and most pupils learnt the art of haggling.

On Friday we visited our first school where the students experienced a calligraphy lesson and then a music session - pupils will be able to sing you a rendition on their return!

At the next school, we were welcomed like royalty! We had a welcome show where we were taught how to do Chinese knotting and an introduction to Tai chi. Pupils at this school were very friendly and our pupils were treated like celebrities!

At 8pm we left Yangzhou to catch the overnight train to Beijing - very exciting and the train was an experience in all kinds of ways! Arrived in Beijing to be met by our guide who said "follow the fish' and held a fish up in the air which the pupils had to look for at all times. Visited the Temple of Heaven (very beautiful) before a traditional Beijing lunch on a small shopping street (more haggling for souvenirs). Off in the bus (luckily air conditioned) to the Great Wall at Juyang Pass (?). In the 100 degree heat we all did very well with most of us getting to the top! Feeling very happy with ourselves, but extremely hot and sweaty, we ate at a beautiful Duck (Peking Duck) restaurant before having an hour or so at the Olympic Park. This was amazing to see although still very hot - this heat was suddenly dissipated by a storm which blew up out of nowhere just as we got back to the bus. Checked into hotel where the pupils were very happy to find Wifi!

Second day in Beijing - visited Tian'amen Square and the Forbidden City. We were treated to a KFC for lunch before visiting the huge Capital Museum. Again during our time in Beijing we were treated like stars with many people wanting photos with us.

Back to Yangzhou on the overnight train, where everybody slept really well as they were really tired!

Breakfast was followed by visits to two local gardens where the pupils were given enough time to enjoyed without becoming too bored. Whilst at the gardens, some of the pupils were able to make rice dumplings - a tradition to coincide with their dragon boat racing. Mr Allison and some of the pupils were interviewed by the local TV network and then it was onto the bus to the next school in Baoying - Chengbei Middle School. This is a small rural town of just 1 million! - practically in the sticks! Hotel facilities enjoyed by all (especially the WIFI!). Had a welcome banquet (Chinese style) at school and then an early night.

Just had school assembly - 3500 pupils arranged in perfect rows - our pupils on display at the front. Mr Allison gave a speech which was translated into Chnese for everybody to hear. (He would like you to know that he was referred to as Principle Bob) Again a very warm welcome! Mr.A was interviewed again by the local TV - becoming quite a celebrity!

Everybody is fine and being brilliant ambassadors for the school and the UK!!

Update Wed 4 June

Yesterday after assembly, pupils went into lessons where they were asked many questions by their interested companions.

After a short break we had international sports day - football and basketball! Everybody got involved in one way or another.  Final results Football England 5 China 2 with Mr Allison being a late substitution in somebody else's shoes with no socks! Basketball was a little bit more one sided! Kit, Cameron, Sam and Joe Wherry were particularly impressive for the England team.

After an early lunch, off in the bus to a nature park. Very interesting to look at the style of farming as we passed through the countryside - got an impression of rural life in China.

Came back to a welcome show with lots of cabaret acts - our students also got involved. Early dinner (chinese) and back to the hotel.

After breakfast at the school, we have just participated in the whole school exercise class. Pupils currently in lessons!

Going back to Yangzhou this afternoon where there will be an opportunity for more shopping and we are being treated to a McDonalds!

Thursday - A visit to the local Printing and history museum was on our itinerary. A very interesting museum but it was quite hot inside the big building and the pupils were beginning to wilt. All pupils had a go at producing their own print. In the afternoon, we visited the last, and biggest, school. This was the Shuren School that I originally set up the link with. It was lovely to see Gracie and Caitlin meet up with their pen pals for the last year. Lunch in the school canteen was an interesting experience but seeing Immie practicing her dissection skills was not particularly appropriate. However, she did make a good job of separating the brain and eyes from the chicken's head. Flicking the eye across the table was perhaps going a bit too far!We then entered another competition but this time we came out second best! Stars in the competition proved to be Olivia for the number of shuttlecocks she was able to basket and Dan Edmonds for the way he held on to James during the three legged race. Interesting that this was our best part of the competition. In the Evening we sat in a large hall to watch various musical and dance performances including our very own Joe York, Harrison Tresidder, Alex Randall and a group performance from Olivia Fletcher, Sophie Cook and Nat Colthurst. They were brilliant and demonstrated we still have a lot in talent in the Uk. Most of the audience appeared to be doing their homework - that was until our stars gave their performances. Harrison, Alex, Joe, Olivia, Sophie and Nat took over the role as being the celebrities with loads of photographs taken - reminded Mr.A of his teenage years when there was 'Beatle mania' (Sorry, most of you would not be able to remember this!)

Friday a visit to Nanjing in the seering heat. We had several tours around parts of Nanjing before reaching our first destination. ( The driver was lost for a while but after reversing back up a dual carriageway and doing a U turn on a busy road, we were about to make it to the Sun Yat sen musoleum. I forgot to mention the battle the driver had with a tree whilst trying to negociate a hair pin bend. After the successful tenth attempt, he was given a round of applause by the pupils. Don't get us wrong, the driver was fantastic throughout the trip. They tend to have different rules about their driving in China. Interesting that Mrs. Morgan pointed out the running green map at the pedestrian crossings rather than the stationary one we have in England. She came to the conclusion you had to run as fast as you could when the green man flashes! This stay provided the pupils with an opportunity to buy souvenirs. The next visit was to the war memorial museum to listen to a guide give an account of the attrocities the indigenous people of Nanjing suffered at the hands of the Japanese in the late 1930's. I have never known English take such a keen interest in the accounts and many said it was the best museum they have ever visited. Hundreds of people passed through the museum but there was a stony silence indicating how emotionally drained they were when reading the accounts. Finally, there was an opportunity for some more shopping. In Nanjing, we met up with the charming Teresa who will be coming with the Chinese party this July. Arrived back late in the hotel but enough time to do some final packing before departing Yangzhou for the last time tomorrow morning.

Saturday our final day, early start at 7.00 a.m. and as usual for this stay in China, all pupils wer on time. We arrived in Shanghai in good time. The last part of the journey was completely alien to many of our pupils with literally hundreds of high rise blocks of flats cramed into a relatively small area of land - we were after all in one of the largest cities in the world. The first part of the day consisted of a visit to an old part of the city centre where the pupils enjoyed their skills in haggling with the shopkeepers. Some were perhaps pushing their luck a little to far by offering 1 yuan (About 10p) for items with a starting price of 150 yuan. The pupils were absolutely delighted at the choice of the next venue, a flea market, as they were able to spend more time haggling. The sheer delight on the faces of Issy, Hannah, Tallulah and Becky as they set off to get their converse shoes for the lowest price possible. How all the pupils found their way back to the meeting up point will always remain a mystery for Mr. Allison. The female staff took time out to have their nails done but the male member declined the offer to have nails 'beautified'.

There was a fitting end to our stay in China with a walk along the Bund on the side of the river Hongpu. A chnace to witness the spectacular night lights of Shanghai.

Our visit to China proved to be a fantastic experience for the whole group. As members of staff, we could not have had a better group of younsters to be with. They were positive throughout the stay and were the perfect ambassadors for their school and for their country. We have been showered with positive comments all week from people who have come into contact with the students.


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