After overcoming the internet issues at Haining long enough to get Day 2 report home, they came back again, so the next few days worth of reports will probably turn up in a rush once we get to Beijing and from memory a more accessible internet service. The service here is slower than we are used to and there are a number of restrictions that make linking with our Western systems difficult at times – not to worry, normal report services will be resumed asap.

Day Three has a bit less meat on it as far as reporting is concerned, but a fun time had all the same. Our first task was all up, packed and ready to get onto the bus. Our wonderful group of students managed that task easily – and no, I am not being sarcastic – they really were up and about, on time and ready to go as requested. Then the gremlins of technology lent a hand, two of the four lifts in the 21 storey hotel decided not to work. Students waited for up to 20 minutes to get a lift. I managed one after only 15 minutes but from the 15th floor I then endured an experience only ever seen in comedy movies. With a full complement of 13 passengers the lift stopped at every single floor bar one on the way down. Ah well, every experience is a good learning opportunity eh!

Shop – eat – travelexperience I hear from our resident optimist

First visit, the Volkswagen factory, very interesting but not a souvenir shop in sight (the chant diminished)

Shop – eat – travel – experience (we had just had brekki, ‘eat’ wasn’t really an issue.)

At least it meant the boss was much quieter (not really; now I am being sarcastic)

It was good to see the modern robots doing their thing in this massive industrial complex which produces some 2 million VW’s a year.

Next visit a stop at a rice museum, here we got to see the history of rice agriculture as well as a large number of items of historical equipment, a pleasant one hour interlude, again no shops, and they didn’t feed us any rice at all.

Shopeat – travel – experience

On to lunch – we are getting to expect the over-supply of food, can’t say we got used to it yet though. Every meal we promise ourselves we will take it easy this time and every meal they offer something different and too good looking to ignore. Ah well, there is always the gym when we get back.

A quiet 2 hour bus ride and we are in Haining. The hotel here is a step or two up from the Shanghai experience and at least the lifts work. Slight change of plan however, the formal welcome to Haining is to be tonight, not tomorrow. Quick shower, and change, (Andrew still manages to sneak in a 30 minute walk (read shopping expedition) around the block to orient ourselves;  overview of the rules of engagement for what is a highly formal event at Haining’s top hotel and we are on the road again, at least this time a short distance.

Dinner was a very fancy affair, same style as we have become accustomed to but a distinct level up in choice and quality. Andrew discussed high policy matters with the great and powerful (Deputy Major; Principal; District Commissioner and so on) the students outdid themselves for good behaviour, tried a few new dishes and generally shone as school representatives; Angela provided the essential services, translation, cultural trap avoidance advice etc, Liam and I smiled, nodded and ate.

‘Home’ after that and straight to bed. Few arguments, tiredness is beginning to bite and some of the kids are starting to realise that the advice of sleeping when you can may actually be worth following.

Tomorrow we have our full day in Haining, lots to do and see.

The chant will resume.

Shop – eat – travel – experience