Hello from Ivana, Hannah, Maya and Colin!
Today we started our morning with a reluctant change into our performance uniform and headed off quickly to the Jing An school theatre for some happy snaps of the choir (in other words, a very long photo shoot!) After much shuffling around, fixing of hair, major adjustments of the ties and of course a silly shot of all of us, we hurried to get changed into our normal clothes to begin our final day of shopping. (mostly haggling!)
However, some children wanted to experience the beauty of the Yu garden, so we split up into groups and decided to meet at a specially designated place (a.k.a starbucks) after we had finished.
The Yu Garden was a welcome respite from the frantic pace of the markets outside its walls, and the architecture surviving from the Ming Dynasty was absolutely beautiful. One group had an interesting encounter with a small group of American tourists who, hearing that we were part of a choir from Australia, requested that we give them a performance. This resulted in seven of us singing "Isn't She Lovely". Others were lucky enough to enjoy a tea tasting in the Garden's tea house. Overall the Yu Garden was a wonderfully peaceful experience.
And then the bargaining started! So many hidden talents of haggling were revealed again as we explored the busy and chaotic Yu Garden markets! Once again many purchases were made, which will definitely show when our luggage is weighed tomorrow at the airport!
The wonderful Mr Bentley also decided to show a group of students where the REAL bargaining happens, which led into the inner parts and backstreets of the markets, including dodging peoples' washing, busting through narrow alleyways and even casually walking through a person's house! This brought us to a massive room filled with Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Coach leather, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, everything possible! I don't think the shopkeeper has ever experienced 20 students cramped into her shop buying wallets and watches!
However, it was quite an exciting experience walking through the backstreets but we all must admit, once we had entered with Mr Bentley, some of us were slightly worried for our safety! It didn't make matters better when Mr Bentley warned us that we may lose a kidney or two! (Joking of course!)
The Starbucks caramel frappachinos were a hit amongst everyone, but according to barista Ben Betelli, the coffee wasn't up to scratch!
Mr Kong's sister Veronica was very kind to treat us all to a high class Chinese banquet for dinner. Karina, Clare, Callum and Hannah chose to wear the Chinese outfits they had bartered for earlier that day.
The textures, sights, taste and smells were defiantly different to anything we have ever experienced before. It was interesting to watch the fish that eventually ended up on our plates being caught with a net from a large tank. The cuisine included ox tounge, eel, melt-in-your-mouth pork, fish eggs and chicken broth with an entire dead chicken (head and feet included) sitting in the bottom of the pot! Rumors also suggested there was turtle. Some were brave, others were queasy at the sight of the chicken.
We returned to our hotel rooms and packed ready for the 5am wakeup call. Which we were all very excited about (not!)
All in all we had an amazing and enriching experience!!
Ivana, Colin, Maya and Hannah :)
Sent from my iPad