We began our morning boarding a canal type wooden boat on the Grand Canal. All seats were indoors with table and chairs as opposed to yesterday morning’s boat with the outdoor aft section. This is the longest man made canal (waterway) in the world. It runs over a thousand miles (the Great Wall distance comes to mind) from Hangzhou to Beijing and took a thousand years to build. (Interestingly, the cocoon of one silk worm provides a thousand kilometers of silk thread. One thousand keeps coming up!) The journey along the canal was very picturesque. The banks were filled with trees and benches with a few people here and there. On the bridges we spotted many people crossing by foot. On the canal itself were many barges, long ones, some low in the water carrying goods and others high in the water returning to their ports.
We disembarked in the city and went to a very modern looking museum of knives, swords, scissors, and oiled umbrellas. The students went off together with their host students to explore this multi -leveled place. The exhibits were very well done with some very realistic, life-sized examples of the people making swords along with various contemporary artifacts (900-1949), again one thousand years.
We took the bus to a nice Chinese restaurant. We sat at tables with “lazy susans”. Since our first meal together at two circular tables, we laugh about the “lazy susan”. Day two, we were all eating and talking, and Terry saw that some children were not getting the food they wished. To help out, as a suggestion, he said, “ It is not meant to be difficult, you have a lazy susan. “ The students in ear shot, after audibly gasping, looked at me with shocked faces as if to say, “ Mrs. Brooks, he just called you lazy!” I explained the revolving disc in the middle of the table was the “lazy susan”, not me. It was so funny to see their faces. It was definitely one of those laugh out loud situations!
There have been many laugh-out-loud situations on this trip mostly involving squat toilets, few and far between paper products (yes, no tp), misunderstood signs, personal space, photo intruders, photo grabbers, traffic, and reactions to cuisine different from home. What is so refreshing, amazing, and a compliment to the children is that they use the squat toilets, stick with us through throngs of people, eat the unusual foods, politely handle the close proximity of strangers, allow people to nestle into our photos, and smile while doing it. Parents, you’ve done a good job.
After a yummy lunch of chicken soup, fungi and shoots, “corn pizza”, beef and peppers, tofu stir fry and roll, pork off the bone, etc. we headed back to the bus for the shopping area.
The shopping area was in a nice area of the city. We walked perhaps 4 blocks and looked at the on street vendors as well as some smaller boutique shops. The children looked for gifts here along with their host partner. We stopped at Baskin Robbins for a treat along the way. After our shopping adventure we headed back to the school where the new host families picked up our students.
Without appearing to interrogate the children with the hot lamp above them, “Where were you and what did you do between the hours of 6:00 pm to 8 o’clock am ?” we did find out a few events that took place in the host families. Half seemed to have homemade meals at home and the other half had meals in restaurants. Some “hung out “ at home playing and others went to shows, ice-skating, and activities away from the house. All of them seemed to be having a great time with their host families.
The four of us- on recapping the day- as always, comment on what a great group we have with us on the trip. Yes, they get goofy sometimes and forget their coat, their jacket, or their camera, but overall they are being responsible, are academic risk-takers, are polite, and are people we enjoy sharing this experience with in China.