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Saturday 21st July 2018

Martial Arts and a Dinosaur Theme Park

Today’s lessons were a change from the usual Mandarin classes; instead, we learnt some Chinese art forms. The first lesson focused on the precision of Calligraphy, (with huge goat-hair brushes which were dipped in ink to create meaningful Chinese well-wishes). With some practice we were ready to decorate our red and gold embossed paper. With phrases such as, ‘Good Luck’ and ‘Happy Birthday’, as well as our names in Chinese characters. Amber came top of the class in winning the praise of the art teacher.

The second lesson focused on Martial Arts and was led by an expert teacher. As a result of the expertise, we were prepared to be turned into mini Jackie Chans. Following a basic pattern of 8 moves, we learnt the steps and positions under the scrutiny of our ‘master’ who was quick to correct and demonstrate how to perfect the moves. Whilst some of us resembled new born lambs trying to keep their balance, Alex was selected as top learner by the teacher to model for the rest of the class.      

Following our morning lessons, we were taken to experience some more culture.  Changzhou is famous for its handmade wooden combs which are locally made and distributed throughout China. We were treated to a tour of its factory museum in which combs from across the ages are displayed, the earliest being from the Neolithic period and were made from animal bone. Luckily for us, the gift shop did not sell the bone combs, just the highly decorated wooden forms but, there was a huge variety of shapes and sizes to choose from. It was at the comb factory that we bumped into our biggest #TeamSPH fan, equipped with a yellow t-shirt that read, ‘I love SPH’. It seems everyone wants to be a member of our team, no matter where in the world they may live. 

The highlight of the trip’s itinerary in Changzhou was our next destination, the world famous Dinosaur Theme Park. Having heard about one of the best rollercoasters ever, The Dinoconda, we were excited beyond belief to finally get the opportunity to experience the ride for ourselves. Building up to the main event, we sampled a couple of the ‘tamer’ rides in order to prepare ourselves… However, even they were far from tame or gentle. The first ride can only be explained as a more extreme version of the Ripsaw at Alton Towers, featuring both water and fire as we were spun ‘360’ time and time again. Finally, the main feature… there it stood, in all of its glory: The Dinoconda.  Following an hour’s queue for the ride, we eventually made it to the platform where we were individually strapped into our seats with a variety of belts and harnesses. Wow! What an experience! Ella J was unable to put her experience into words, ‘I can’t begin to explain what’s just happened to me!’. Adam L said it was the best ride he’s ever been on. Luckily for Mr Redfern, his hype about the ride lived up to expectation – it really was the best ride, EVER!

After 4 and a half hours of exploration and an overwhelming sense of nausea from the rides, we were treated to a choice of McDonalds, KFC or Pizza Hut (food relief!) and headed back to the coach and then school. What an amazingly exhausting day today has been!   

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