Part Two – Guìlín, Yángshuò and the Lóngjî Rice Terraces

June 29, 2017 at 9:11 pm (China, Travel) (, , , , , , )

Day Six

Today was simply a transit day. We ate like kings at our buffet breakfast (five star hotel remember?) and then flew to Guìlín where we were greeted with more torrential rain. Mum had some issues with her baggage as she had forgotten about some electricals. Otherwise the day was pretty uneventful the highlight being finding delicious  noodles for 4RMB (0.52€ $0.77AUD).

Day Seven

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Since neither of us are particularly fond of cruises, we were pleasantly surprised with our trip down the Lí river. We spent the whole trip up on the top deck marveling at the amazing limestone structures that make this area’s landscape quite spectacular. Earlier this year I saw the same limestone structures rising from the sea at Halong Bay in Vietnam, so it was of particular interest for me to see them now on land.

It’s hard to explain how beautiful yet eerie they are. A combination of rock, moss and greenery, they look as if a child has drawn a crooked outline for their formation. We were truly mesmerized.

IMG_1956In the afternoon the magic continued with a leisurely bike ride along Dragon River. Here we marveled once again and enjoyed the tranquility of nature without the hoards of tourists.

Day Eight

For our free day in Yángshuò we decided to hire bikes again. We found a suggested route (The Yong Valley Countryside Route) and off we went. Surprisingly, we managed to follow the instructions well and had a lovely trip off the beaten path. The route took us on country roads and through minority villages with not another tourist in sight. Neither of us took many photos as we were enjoying the ride so much!

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Most of the afternoon was spent playing cribbage in a bar/coffee shop while we waited for our transfer back to Guìlín.

Day Nine

IMG_4798A night at the Lóngjî Rice Terraces was on the cards. Hand dug over five hundred years ago, the paddy fields first became known to the public eye after Li Yashi photographed them in the 1990s. You can certainly see why they have captured tourists eyes ever since.

The views of the cascading rice fields are breathtaking even amongst the rain and mist. They seem to swirl in jigsaw like pieces or like children’s building blocks piled up on top of each other.
IMG_4813The fields don’t even yield enough rice for the surrounding villages and are basically maintained to feed the tourist industry. But one does wonder about the heartache that went into not only building them, but cultivating them by hand year after year. It truly is an amazing landscape.

We were lucky to see the terraces without the rain that seems to be our constant friend on this trip. We visited the ‘Seven Stars with the Moon’ as well as the ‘Nine  Dragons and Five Tigers.’ By the time we walked down, the train had settled in for the day so we spent our afternoon in a cosy postcard shop. After a year in China, I finally managed to write some postcards!

Day Ten

IMG_2052It rained all night and all morning so further exploration off the rice terraces were quite off the cards. Instead we played cribbage and drank tea on the hotel’s balcony. We couldn’t complain about the view and the time before heading back to Guìlín passed quickly.

Back in Guìlín we walked around the university area, succumbed to buying umbrellas and braved the torrential rain for a walk around Shan Lake.

Day Eleven

IMG_4829After a lazy morning, we braved the rain and visited the Sun and Moon Pagodas in Shan Lake. These two pagodas are connected via an underground tunnel that goes beneath the lake. Both structures are octagonal and the Sun Pagoda even has a lift. Apparently it is one of very few that do in China.

We had dumplings in a tiny family owned snack bar. We communicated via hand and foot, and were rewarded with a delicious meal. It was a real Chinese moment, away from the bustle of the city, homemade and served by two smiling faces.

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In the evening we went and saw the two pagodas lit up. We ate a Chinese egg waffle dessert and walked around the Guìlín lakes.

Day Twelve

Our last day in Guìlín and with our guide was a little underwhelming to be honest. First we visited Elephant Trunk Hill, which is supposed to be the symbol of Guìlín. The scenic area was unfortunately not very interesting or pretty, but it was pouring with rain and flooded so perhaps that clouded my judgement.

The next stop was Reed Flute Cave. Neither mum or I are huge cave fans so we weren’t really expecting much. The cave has some interesting formations and in true Chinese style was lit up like a Christmas tree. We found out afterwards that this cave was a ‘foreigners’ cave because the Chinese tourists generally go to a different one. Doesn’t really make  you feel that you’re seeing the best the area has to offer.

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A bullet train then took us to Kunming, our next destination. We spent eight hours on the train and were on the train for the entirety of its trip. The highlight for mum was tracking the route on the maps in my Lonely Planet book and keeping an eye on the speed, which capped at 208km/h. On a side note, we have decided the Chinese Lonely Planet is fairly useless and needs updating desperately.

xoxo

P.s More photos?

 

 

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Part One – Yellow Mountains

June 22, 2017 at 5:08 pm (China, Travel) (, , , )

This summer mum and I are doing a 20 day trip across China. I’ve decided to break the blog up into the different parts of our trip.

Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) was named after the Yellow Emperor who is the father of all Chinese people. Perhaps a mythical figure, his wife is acclaimed to have created silk when a cocoon fell into her tea. The area is known for its Huangshan pine trees, mystical granite peaks and breathtaking views from above the clouds.

Day One

IMG_4681After some last minute ” I’m about to go on holiday tasks” and a Melbourne style breakfast in Suzhou, mum was on her way to her first ever hash! I’d been talking about it so much, that even though it was a bit tight with catching our train we decided to go. We had a lovely stroll around Lake Taihu in Wuxi. Unfortunately the hash was not as off the beaten track as I would have liked but it did have some lovely parts and it was nice to see all the locals out enjoying the sunshine.

The “Queen’s mother” survived the circle, picked at the Chinese meal (It wasn’t really our cup of tea!) and caught the Chinese version of Uber to the train station. We navigated Wuxi train station fairly easily and managed to pick up our train tickets for the rest of our trip. Even though we had heaps of time at the station, we nearly missed our overnight train though! The gates opened as I went to the toilet and they nearly didn’t let us through. We had to run along the platform with luggage in tow. Typical!

Day Two

I basically fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Not even a baby in our four bed carriage or having the light on all night phased me. We were picked up by our driver at Huangshan and then I slept the whole way to the Yellow Mountains. Too. Upon arrival we made the fatal mistake of deciding to walk up the western steps. I hadn’t really done my research and mum didn’t fancy a cable car, so off we went.

We walked up endless amounts of concrete steps. Up, up and more up. It really wasn’t the best climb and half way up we both admitted to wishing we had taken the cable car. This is quite an admittance for us as we’re both quite stubborn.

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Towards the end of the climb we were rewarded with some fabulous views which made us feel a little better. We saw the Five Elders as well as the turtle and the fish embracing. We also met the hoards of Chinese tourists that generally accompany any trip to a national park. This also made us feel better for choosing the western steps, for although it was strenuous and tedious, it was most definitely less full. We understood this first hand as we pushed our way through the Narrow Cliff.

IMG_1765The Guest-Welcoming Pine was most certainly a welcoming sight. The tree is believed to be over 1,500 years old so God knows how many visitors it has had they pleasure of welcoming! This well photographed tree can be found in many paintings and pictures around China so it was really cool to see it in real life. It also signified our hotel must be near and our climb had nearly come to an end for the day. The area was packed with tourists all pushing and elbowing each other to get the perfect shot. Mine purposely includes the tourists of course!

We stayed at Yupinglou hotel. Comfy beds, clean and nice green tea. Restaurant prices  for simple dishes still ok in price.

Day Three

IMG_1782We awoke to the sound of rain and misty clouds. Not exactly the best news! As such, our walk to the next hotel was damp and white. One section, where we climbed a ladder like structure cut into the granite and wedged in between a sea of tourists, was quite something but otherwise unfortunately not too much to report. We arrived at our hotel waited for check in and I slept most of the afternoon.

As such this report will concentrate on the most amusing part of the day… Chinese hiking attire. We have seen dresses, slip on plastic shoes, jeans… You name it, we’ve seen it. Today was particularly amusing as they all produced their wet weather gear. This resulted in a sea of plastic yellow, blue and purple condom shaped figures bustling their way along the stairs. Some even had bootees to keep their shoes from getting wet.

It would be lax of me not to mention the essential hiking accessory for all Chinese tourists. For 10RMB you too can have a simple wooden walking stick. These truly do make you look like a seasoned hiker and are useful for practically nothing!

Before dinner, mum and I ventured out again and were rewarded with some views of the granite peaks above the mist. We have our fingers crossed for more spectacular views tomorrow. We will be walking the Xihai Canyon rain, hail or shine.

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We stayed at Baiyun Hotel. Not as nice as the previous hotel but ok. Meals at the restaurant were ridiculously priced so we had Sprite and biscuits from the little shop instead. Beds were pretty hard, but hey… This is China!

The Lotus Peak trail was closed. Apparently it’s been under maintenance since December 2014?

Day Four

We decided on an early start and descended into the Xihai Canyon pleasantly surprised to have the trail to ourselves. In fact we saw no more than ten walkers all the way down! The walk was steep and downwards but the views were absolutely beautiful.

IMG_1799Unfortunately, the trail we wanted was actually closed so we ended up having to take the long way down. This track followed a waterfall down one side and then up the other to the cable car. It was lovely wandering along without the noise, pushing and shoving and not to forget spitting, that we had put up with on or previous two days.

When we finally made it to the cable car, we’d both had enough and decided to take it up rather than walking the other side of the canyon. This proved to be a good decision when we saw the hoards of people coming down the track. It Is obvious that there are certain tour group trails and we were very pleased we had managed to find one off the beaten track.

After a quick coffee and cake stop, we were back on our way towards our next hotel. This was a pleasant walk up to Bright Summit and past Flying Over Rock and took barely any time at all.

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Flying Over Rock is one of the ‘sights to see’ on the mountain. It’s 15m high and 7m wide and juts out over the cliff face quite spectacularly. It does look like it’s been placed there by some magical force!

We stayed at Paiyunlou Hotel. By far the shabbiest of the hotels but their fried rice was pretty good and at a reasonable price.

If I came back here again I would not choose these hotels in this order. It’s hard to get an idea of what the best options are because all the maps are terrible!  (According to mum you can’t even call it a map, she reckons it’s a drawing!)

Day Five

The mist and rain were unfortunately back to see us off the mountain. We walked to the cable car fairly quickly and took in the Old Monkey Looking Over the Sea (he wasn’t seeing much) and Lions Peak on our way. I’m sure the lookouts would have been magnificent if we’d been able to see anything but cloud!

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With time to spare before our pick up, we decided to take the Eastern Steps down. It definitely made sense that the porters prefer using these steps! The walk down was long but nowhere near as long or as steep as the Western steps. It was actually a fairly pleasant walk even in the train.

I’ve come to the conclusion that every rock in this park has a name. Most of the time it’s pretty hard to A work out which exact rock they are talking about and B how on earth it connects to the name it has been given. I guess that’s all part of the fun.

Wet and tired, we had a quick lunch before taking the bullet train to Hefei. We must be going up in the world because we’re in a five star hotel. It comes complete with gas masks for our protection. 😉

This concludes the Yellow Mountains part of our trip. Stay tuned for our next destination Guilin!

xoxo

P.s More photos?

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Summer Holidays Lead up

June 16, 2017 at 11:14 am (China) (, )

My long weekend wasn’t over by the time I got back to Suzhou.  A couple of hours after arriving back, I set out to have a look at MORE flats.  Unfortunately, my landlord didn’t want to renew for another year so I was back on the search.  I’m pretty picky with what I like, and I don’t compromise well.  That means I have seen way more flats in the past couple of weeks than I would care to admit!

Finally, after some negotiation, I signed on a new flat with a view of the lake and pants building.  That and the fingerprint access (can’t lock myself out) sold it for me, plus the fact that I was heartily sick of looking and the flat is situated in the compound I had originally aimed for.  I’m now halfway between school and the action, about an 8km bike ride.

Of course in true Chinese style, the flat wasn’t cleaned properly before moving in, there is useless furniture and the last tenant/owner has left a whole lot of stuff in the place… but I worked hard to get everything at least livable before mum’s arrival.  I still need to get some furniture and bits and pieces but that will have to wait until after the holidays now.

IMG_4504I celebrated my find with a trip to the movies with Ollie.  We literally decided we would go after dinner, looked up the closest cinema on our phones and bought tickets to the next available film!  Pirates of the Caribbean.  Totally unexpected but so much fun, and the film was way better than expected.  Bonus!

The next day I was taken sailing on Jinje Lake by Allan.  He is a member of the local sailing club and can always take a guest for free.  We watched the dragon boat races from the IMG_4510water and just enjoyed being out in the clean (for once) air with the sun shining.  I had forgotten how relaxing sailing can be.  It was good to be out and about without a stress in the world.  (Reports written, packing of flat not yet begun)

Seeing my life packed up in boxes again was hard.  I really wasn’t ready for another move and as a result it upset me more than I expected.  A good friend did help to put it into perspective.  She said that I should think about it as always being ready and able to take on new adventures.

IMG_4531Life at school has been busy!  Schools always are.  The end of the year means graduation, music concerts, packing up classrooms, winding up activities to name a few.  The Parents School Partnership did a wonderful job of recognising the job we have done this year by hosting a lovely morning tea.  We were all given feather boas and crazy glasses and then we sauntered down the red carpet to adoring Elementary students.  Perhaps a little bit over the top, but also heaps of fun.

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I hope this picture gives you some indication of the size of the event!

Grade 5 Graduation was definitely more suave than any of my prior experiences.  We had a HUGE ball like function at the Renaissance Hotel.  All the students got dressed up and we had a sit down meal before the kids entertained us with music and dancing.  A highlight for me was watching one particular student get up on stage and dance with the other boys from his own free will.   He has come such a long way this year and I am extremely proud of him.

It was an extremely big weekend for me.  After the Grade 5 Graduation Party, the teachers were bussed to the Leaver’s Party.  This was a fun event even though it is always sad to see people leave.  That’s the way international teaching goes though.  It will definitely be a different workplace for me next year with some really important faces in my Chinese life leaving.  After the party I was out dancing with some of my hashing friends.  It really was an awesome night!

The next day was moving day, and I was not feeling as great as I would have liked.  Luckily, Mark had helped me organise a man and a van AND Ollie and Thorsten were absolute angels helping me.  We managed to get everything to the new flat in one trip and it took heaps less time than originally anticipated.  I do have WAY TOO much stuff though.  Hoarder by nature, even if I can pack my whole life in boxes.

IMG_4565So after a rather big night out, moving and sleeping my first night in a new scary apartment… doing your first triathlon makes total sense, right?  SSIS runs a yearly triathlon and ninja course to raise money for Heart to Heart Shanghai.  Of course I was totally going to give it ago and I figured, that if I was going to try doing a triathlon I should do the whole thing.  It was all in or nothing!

800m swim in the school pool

15km bike ride around the school car park

5.2km run around the school athletics track

It went much better than I anticipated but I don’t have an official time unfortunately.  I forgot to ask my counter to time me as well.  We think it took me approximately 1hr and 30 minutes… but the time didn’t really matter because it was all about the experience.  I really felt it during the first two laps of the track.  It was hot and my legs were wobbly but this stubborn old mule wasn’t giving up and I even managed to catch somebody on the run leg!

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Still smiling and alive! Thank you to my lap counter Jen!

I came in sixth from twelve competitors and was the first female (there were only two of us) across the line!  I wore my gold medal very proudly all day Sunday and at school the next day.  I’m definitely going to sign up again next year and see if I can beat more men AND defend my title.

I think I was the only teacher who did the whole thing!  It was great seeing so many students and teachers involved in the day as you could compete individually or as segment teams.

Then it wasn’t long before mum arrived!  In true Kate style, I decided to go hashing so mum was actually greeted by my friend Tim and spent the first night at his place.  The hash ended up being quite busy because Allan manged to fall down some stairs and we ended up in hospital.  That was quite the experience I can assure you!

IMG_4632Finally reunited with my mother, we went on an adventure to Tiger Hill with Banyu.  Tiger Hill is nicknamed the leaning tower of China because it leans at a 3 degree angle.  It is situated in a beautiful cultivated park which we enjoyed walking around.  Banyu led the way avoiding steps as much as possible after the crazy amount we had down on the hash together the day before.  He enjoyed hearing about the tale of 3,000 swords being buried below sword lake and also the stone cutting rock which he actually pointed out to us after hearing the story.

Afterwards we wandered around wedding dress street before taking a taxi to Ping Jian Lieu.  We ended up doing a lot of walking but mum managed to see a lot.  🙂  We finished with celebratory we survived our first year at SSIS drinks with fellow first year teachers and then had a lovely Chinese meal to finish it off.

Mum has been quite adventurous in Suzhou.  Here is a list of some of her shannigan

  • went to the water town Tongli all by herself
  • visited the Suzhou Museum, got herself registered at the police station
  • organised my washing
  • walked around the lake
  • rode my bicycle in the heat
  • came to school and was a kindergarten assistant
  • visited Shanghai
  • saw the Humble Administrators Garden
  • helped me transport my new dryer via a trolley
  • traditional tea ceremony.
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We picked up the dryer from a friend on the other side of my compound. After carrying it half way, we decided a trolley was a MUCH better option!

I must admit that she’s seen more of Suzhou than I have!  All my friends are mightily impressed with her adventures and are starting to realise where I get my crazy travelling streak from!

Today is my last day at school.  I can’t believe I made it.  It’s been a rough transition and I have had my fair amount of highs and lows.  I’ve learnt heaps and I know I am improving my practice.  There are so many amazing memories and I’ve had ridiculous experiences that I am very thankful for.  As always at an international school, it is time to say goodbye to new friends.  It’s a time for reflection, new beginnings and most importantly… summer holidays!

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Sending the students off Chinese style!

xoxo

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A Warrior Weekend

June 9, 2017 at 1:50 pm (China, Travel) (, )

IMG_4477Thanks to the Dragon Boat Festival we had a four-day weekend at the end of May.  My friend Allan and I decided to take this opportunity to go and see Xī’ān where the terracotta warriors are.  These life sized figures were one of my must sees in China and one of the major draw cards for coming to China.

We took the overnight train Friday night, checked into our hostel and were on the old city walls by 11.  There aren’t many old city walls in China still standing and this exemplar was even more impressive than the ones I saw in Nanjing.  The Xī’ān wall was built in 1370 by the Ming dynasty and is 12m high.  Old city walls in China were wide, wide enough for a horse and carriage to travel on them. Wide enough for us to hire bikes and pedal the 14km rectangular perimeter in the sweltering heat.

IMG_4478Unlike in most tourist places in China, the wall was basically empty!  Not many people seemed to be around and those that were only looked at a section rather than any big walking or riding.  We loved it!  We pedalled sections without seeing anybody and enjoyed a cheeky beer in the shade.

After lunch, we ventured out to the Shaanxi History museum.  This was obviously where all the tourists had flocked to as it was uncomfortably packed!  The museum walked us through the history of the Shaanxi province and different artefacts.  We were particularly taken by some meercat looking figures representing the animals of the Chinese zodiac as well as a cartoon like sculpture.  We also saw four original terracotta warriors that wet our appetite for the real thing.  We finished up our day at the Big Goose Pagoda, apparently one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

IMG_5648Dinner was spent strolling through the Muslim quarter.  This lively maze of narrow streets filled with street food and people offered some of the best grub that either of us have had here in China.  We were trying things left right and center, but in typical male fashion, Allan was most happy with his meat on a stick.

The night finished with us magically finding the drum tower all lit up like a Christmas tree.  Xī’ān has both a bell and a drum tower.  The bell tower originally rung to mark dawn, and the drum tower nightfall.  We’d seen the bell tower as it is located on its own traffic island on the road that connects the south gate of the wall to the north, but we didn’t really have the drum tower on our radar.

We were up nice and early for breakfast and our pick up to see the terracotta warriors.  We had decided to hire a driver on the recommendation of a colleague.  This meant we weren’t stuck with some stupid tour group and could also get out to the warriors as early as possible to avoid the crowd.  We also wanted to visit the Tomb of Emperor Jingidi which is the complete opposite direction to the warriors.  In order to do both in the same day we really didn’t have any other option.

IMG_4492The warriors need no introduction.  Unearthed by a farmer looking for water in 1974, these warriors guarded the Emperor Qin Shi Huang for thousands of years. Qin Shi Huang was the founder of the Qing dynasty and the first emperor to unify China.  He ruled for only ten years between 220 – 210 BC.

The exact number of warriors is unknown and archaeological work is still under way but it is estimated that over 6000 of them are in the main pit alone.  Each figure is life sized and each face truly different.  They stand guard in battle formation with bemused looks on their faces.  It is of little wonder that this is one of the most amazing archaeological finds in history.

All I can say, is that you ever get the chance to see them… do it.  The truly are phenomenal.  If you are lucky, you might even get the chance to meet the farmer who found them.  We did, which made the experience all that little bit more special.

IMG_4494By the time we left, the site was teaming with tourists and we were glad for the early morning and the time and space we had to admire and ponder the warriors in all their glory.  We had a nap in the car and arrived at the Tomb of Jingidi pleasantly surprised at the lack of tourists.  The Hanyangling Museum, otherwise known as the underground museum, was just as interesting as the warriors but didn’t quite have the same mind blowing effect.  Perhaps that had to do with the smaller size of the figures but I think it is also because the warriors are known world-wide.

Emperor Jingdi ruled from 188 – 141 BC.  There are believed to be 81 burial pits but to date only 21 have been excavated.  These form the ‘underground museum’ and then there is a museum with artifacts as well.  The 21 pits showcase more about daily life than the terracotta warriors with different pits representing different parts of life at the time.  What was really cool was the fact that some of the pits had been glassed over and you were literally walking over the top of the burial pit peering in.  The museum afterwards allowed us to look at the figures in more detail and the animals in particular were very life-like.  It is believed that over 50,000 figures were buried in the emperor’s tomb.

With our minds blown and the afternoon heat blazing, we decided to spend the afternoon napping on the hostel couch before hitting the Muslim quarter again for dinner.  Then it was back to train station and on the overnight train back to Suzhou.

Xī’ān really was is of those special travel destinations.  The kind that reminds you why you have chosen to be a traveller and experience the world.  It was an incredible experience made even better for the company and the laughs I had with my travel buddy.

xoxo

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Sunshine in Suzhou

June 2, 2017 at 12:38 pm (China) (, , , , )

Life in China continues to be busy and full of surprises.  At this point I have three and a half weeks left of school before Summer holidays.  After the rough start I had to my new country, I can hardly believe that I am still standing and smiling.  I have a lot of adventures and friendships to be thankful for and I seem to be as busy as ever.

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The weekend after I got back from Borneo I joined the Shanghai hockey players for a sixers competition in Hong Kong.  Those of you who know me well can easily imagine how much I was itching for some hockey and I don’t think you could wipe the smile off my face ALL weekend.  We drank, we played, I scored goals and met some wonderful people.  My roomie Jen and I had a blast being silly, dancing and having a competition to see who could score the most goals.  (She won!)

My trip to the airport in Shanghai was memorable though.  I arrived at the Suzhou railway station only to find out that my train ticket had been booked under the wrong passport and I could not pick it up!  That’s when the stress began.  I had no choice but to buy a new ticket on the next available train.  I finally arrive at the airport train station, already glimpsing at my watch and worried about check in time.

Many of my friends had flown from Hongqiao airport and had told me it was easy as to get there from the train station.  “The terminal is right there Kate.  No stress.”  They must have all flown from Terminal 2… So I am running through the train station trying to work out how to get to the terminal.  I’m stressing out, no Chinese and everybody is pointing me in the direction of the metro.  I get to the metro and suddenly realise that I had changed to my travel wallet.  I had absolutely no money on me.  I’m standing at the ticket machine, sweating, stressing and coinless.  In all my time as a traveller I have never had to ask somebody to help me out with a few coins to get on a train or a bus, but I was desperate and my options were running out.  I had to check in luggage and Jen was waiting at the check in counter with her stick to go in my stick bag!

Luckily a young couple helped me out and bought me a ticket.  I must have looked like a right mess and totally believable.  Mind you, I am not sure why a western person would be asking for cash unless they were desperate in China.  I was desperate.  I caught the metro, ran my little butt off with a huge stick bag and huffing and puffing checked in my bag with only minutes to spare.  Total Kate style!

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First Suzhou Hockey Club Training

My hockey trip inspired me to organise getting a small expat group together to hit some balls around.  I am the founding member and chairwoman of the Suzhou Hockey Club!  We’re a small group (currently 12 members) who meet once or twice a month to have a hit.  So far we’ve had two trainings and each time we’ve had six players each time.  Check out our website!  It’s so good being able to have a regular hit and we aim to play against Shanghai after the summer holidays, and hopefully play in Hong Kong next Easter.

IMG_4404Of course, I have also been busy hashing.  It really is the best way to get out and about exploring Suzhou.  Highlights included a hash weekend where I got my hash name QueeNO F*** Everything and an amazing Suzhou city hash through narrow alleyways and the old town.  It’s not quite hockey, but the hash is definitely helping to fill the hole in my life.  I’m excited to try out some hashes when I am home in Melbourne over my summer holidays.

School has also been crazy busy.  My first Suzhou Exhibition is behind me and I definitely learnt a lot through the process.  Here the students do a group project unlike in Stuttgart so this was a big adjustment for me.  I also had the opportunity to work with students across the grade level and not just from my own class.  Our Exhibition presentations centred around making experiences for the audience which was highly successful.  I’m excited to build on what I learnt this year and adapt my teaching for an even more successful Exhibition and classroom practice in the future.

IMG_4454Other random adventures include our school’s International Family Day, Suzhou on the Beat music festival and my first ever adventure obstacle course.  I managed to con Olli and Thorsten into becoming a team with me and in true German style they were very negative about our ability to complete the course.  Olli had even done his research about the different obstacles… I had no idea.  I was just looking forward to the challenge, especially the mud!  It was great fun and I am so glad we did it together.  Doris and Toby were also with us cheering us on and we finished the day all together with a burger and big smiles all round.

Life in Suzhou is busy, always busy.  It’s amazing what you can find to do if you look around for adventures.

xoxo

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