Went to bed, blinked, morning already. Welcome back to the daily report from all the Margaret River Sinophiles.

Today was our first full day in China and I do mean full – with the
“shop – eat – travel – experience” of course.

Buffet breakfast to start the day and our guys again excelled in their willingness to try a wide range of foods. One thing we don’t do so well is share tables. The dining room was very busy but here it is perfectly acceptable to sit at any table with a vacant seat, no friendly conversation expected. We tend to be used to having our own private table and most found it very disconcerting to have a perfect stranger sit in the seat next to you but ever adaptable, all coped.

First stop of the day was the Shanghai Museum; a fabulous collection of Chinese history, currently hosting the British Museum’s “History of the World in 100 Objects”. A great exhibit in its own right, for us its greatest value was that it was so popular people were lined up for about 200 m to get in, leaving most other galleries virtually deserted for us. Getting in however was not so clear, we waited around an hour in line, but it was worth it, all the kids found something of interest be it “Minority cultures”, “Ancient Ceramics”; “Currency Through the Ages” even a collection of coins from the Ancient World that had made it across the historic Silk Road. An hour well spent, but in truth only a taster of what this 4 storey museum had to offer.

Next the Zhujuajiao water town. This remnant from the Medieval times is the best preserved of its kind, fabulous alleyway shopping, traditional foods and a veritable cacophony of odours. We enjoyed a very traditional meal here along with a pleasant small boat ride in what has, according to our guide, been called the Venice of the East. Students were let off the leash for an hour of shopping and exploring, some parents could be getting some interesting ‘gift’ from the orient here.

Back to central Shanghai and a walk along the foreshore to see the famous Bund. This amazing collection of building (photos soon I promise) has made Shanghai perhaps the fastest growing commercial centre in the world. When last we visited the 2nd tallest building in the world was still being built, now complete the Tower is an awesome looking piece of modern architecture.

Hitting the water again we cruised the river alongside the Bund, amazingly learning that this entire feature is in fact man made, a relaxing way to finish the day.

Did I say finish??!! Sorry, I meant ‘start the evening’, we let the kids loose on the Nanjing Pedestrian Road for an hour of fabulous shopping and sensory experience. Not sure what was bought here, this is the high end of town for the most part, although Jodie B and a few others visited a toy shop where Jodie won first prize in a scratchie competition 80% off Jewellery in the store. The shop keepers were all excited, but couldn’t believe it when Jodie said thanks but no thanks, not in the market for any jewellery. How’s that for fortitude. Well done Jodie.

Must mention, before finally finishing for the day. What may become the most memorable moment of the trip (apart from the Wall, Beijing, the Warriors, the food, the museums and the cultural experiences of course). Our guide decided to treat us to some of his Karaoke skills; a highly entertaining few songs later we were still undecided as to how serious he actually was. Andrew was happy to note that contrary to his belief, he was not actually the worst singer on the bus, unfortunately we did end with the sneaking suspicion that Snow was in fact quite seriously proud of his talents. At least it stirred the kids up who then took over the microphone and did in fact produce some quite enjoyable numbers.

For those wondering – yes – the chant has continued unabated.

“shop – eat – travel – experience”

It has now been added to with a little challenge: Andrew is so convinced of his shopping ability that he has thrown down the gauntlet to any student who can get a better finishing price as a proportion of the starting price than Andrew can manage. Early days yet, I know Griffin has managed a 50% reduction on a significant item, but it’s too soon to tell.

Another late night, we didn’t see the hotel again until past 10pm. Tomorrow it’s an early start, the Volkswagen Factory, then off to Haining, formal dinner and a relatively relaxed evening to charge up for the days to come.

Until then: “shop – eat – travel – experience”


Regards, Martin