QTSS OVERSEAS TRIP: SHANGHAI-HANGZHOU-SUZHOU IMMERSION TRIP- DAY 7

We had our last breakfast in Hang Zhou and departed for Shang Hai. Some how the atmosphere seems a bit sad as it rained the whole day. We noticed that our teachers had fallen sick also after taking care of us throughout this China trip. We hoped that the teachers will recover soon. Thank you teachers for the care and concern and advice given to us. Those were lessons that we would never had been able to learn from the textbooks. Get well soon ok! We were also very excited as we would be able to see our dear parents as one week had past by so quickly. Tomorrow we would be heading back to Singapore. Yay!

In the afternoon, we went to Cheng Huang Temple area and were given two hours to do our shopping. We enjoyed the famous street snacks and bought more souvenirs for our friends and family members in Singapore.  After that, we were taken to a boat ride along the Huang Pu river. It was a short one hour ride, but the scenery along the coast were breath-taking, although the weather was very cold and misty.

We had our last dinner in China and then headed back to the hotel. The mood was a bit solemn. Although some of us might not get used to the food here, and we do miss our parents back home, but when it occured to us that the China Immersion Trip was going to end soon, we somehow felt a bit reluctant. We had learned to be more appreciative of our country and also be more embracing to others’ cultures and behaviours. We hope to be able to participate in another cultural immersion programme as we had learnt so much during this trip! 🙂

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QTSS OVERSEAS TRIP: SHANGHAI-HANGZHOU-SUZHOU IMMERSION TRIP- DAY 6

Today is a bittersweet day for all of us. It is our last day with our twinning school, Chun Lei Middle School. Alike the last two days, we went to the class with our buddies. We sat through Chinese and English language lessons. The Chinese language lesson was too complicated for us as the content and the way the teachers teach are very different from what and how we learn in Singapore. During the English lesson, it was conducted using both English and Chinese language. What we liked about the classes were the teachers are friendly whilst the students are easygoing. The teachers are willing to print out worksheets for us to understand and the students shared with us their textbooks so that we do not feel left out. Although sitting through their lessons was challenging at times (due to their language and dialect-accent), the experience was enriching for us.

After sitting through their lessons, the QTSS students had lunch in their function room. After which, we then proceeded to learn the 3 different aspects of Chinese culture: Written Art (calligraphy), Music and Food Culture.

For some of us, it was our first time trying out Calligraphy. Calligraphy is a form of writing using Chinese Symbols (alphabet system) and requires alot of precision. Calligraphy requires us to paint symbols, written with a brush dipped into black ink. We were taught by Mr Yuen, a teacher in Chun Lei Middle School to hold the brush in a 90 degree angle from the paper and start drawing the word with the right amount of strength. At first, we had difficulties doing the calligraphy because the angle of the brush need to be perpendicular to the paper. It was different from the normal way of holding a pencil so i had to adjust accordingly. At the first stroke, it was very ugly because we had no experience but we went according to the steps provided by the teacher and successfully written the word (永) (yong) properly. This word was written as it allows students to practice all the strokes in Chinese characters. Although the session was only 1 hour, we managed to write lots of characters.

Next, we were exposed to a unique musical instrument called Tao Di. It is an egg-like instrument that uses air to make sound. By covering the different holes on the Tao Di,  different sounds will be produced. We learnt that it is a new traditional instrument. In the past, it was make of shells or wood. But now, people uses porcelain to make it as they can then draw beautiful designs on it.

The music teacher taught us how to produce music with the instrument. We have to blow air into the instrument and we had a chance to learn 2 songs: Happy Birthday and Au Lange Syne.

At 5pm, our partner school had specially invited a local chef to their school to teach us how to make dumplings. As some of us were muslims, the chef taught us how to make vegetable dumplings. Our buddies from Chun Lei Middle school also joined us in making the dumplings. For all of us, including our buddies from Chun Lei Middle school, was as our first time making dumpling. The process of making the dough was a little difficult as it involved a lot of kneading and knowing how much flour and water to add to form the dough. However, the chef had prepared doughs for the 4 tables and we had fun making the dumplings. We used a lot of flour so that the dough doesn’t stick to the table or our hands. We then inserted the vegetable fillings and tried to wrap the dumplings neatly. Some of us who had made curry puffs before, were able to use our skills in wrapping the dumpling. The rest of us just used our imagination.

Due to the time constraint, the Chef has prepared boiled dumplings for us before hand. We had fun eating with our buddies and liked the dumplings. Even friends who did not like to eat vegetables began to like eating those dumplings.

At the end of the dinner, the bittersweet moment came for all of us. We had to say goodbye to our buddies and teachers from Chun Lei Middle School. We gave them our gifts from Singapore and took as many pictures as we could with them. On our bus ride to our hotel, we started to miss this school experience. We hope we have the chance to visit Chun Lei Middle School again.

QTSS OVERSEAS TRIP: SHANGHAI-HANGZHOU-SUZHOU IMMERSION TRIP- DAY 5

The immersion programme at Chun Lei Middle School was an amazing experience for us because it was very different from the schools in Singapore. The students were all very attentive and focused during lessons even though they might have difficulty understanding the content during the lessons. They took down notes for their self revision which I thought was a good learning attitude. Apart from the English lesson, Math and Chinese lesson were also equally interesting. During the Math lessons, they had to recite a paragraph about triangles and its properties before their teacher started teaching. I found this very interesting because they read the paragraph loudly together as a class and no one lagged behind. As for the Chinese lesson, the teacher was doing revision with the students because their exams would start next week. The teacher and students were learning and analysing Chinese poems. Generally, we found this experience very meaningful as we were given the opportunity to see their learning environment and learnt more how they conduct lessons in China. 

Our school teacher, Mr Tay also conducted a Math lesson in the school. The lesson was very engaging and interesting! We measured our friends’ facial features dimensions using measuring tapes as we learn about golden ratio. Everyone in the class had so much fun and the classroom was filled with much laughter because of Mr Tay’s jokes. 

After attending their lessons, the students put up a performance to welcome us to the school.

The performance put up by the Chun Lei Middle School students was very impressive. The students had interesting talents which really caught my eye. One of them is a female student who used a calculator to play a song. The buttons on the calculator produced different sounds when pressed and thus she used it to play a tune for us. There was also a Chinese dance performance which allowed us to experience the Chinese culture through this performing art. In addition, two other students put up a Wu Shu performance and flute performance, and all of us were awed by their performance. 

We also set up booths showcasing some of Singapore’s traditional games and cultural practices such as the Five Stones, Pick-up-sticks and Henna. These booths gave the Chun Lei Middle School students the opportunity to learn about Singapore’s culture through participating in the different activities planned by us. Many of the students have not tried these games before, and they really enjoyed themselves.

After the lessons in the morning, we went for a boat ride at West Lake, which was an exciting experience for us. Being able to get a full view of the lake on the boat and to enjoy the natural surrounding was a rare opportunity. One of the interesting things the tour guide shared about was the pagodas around the lake. It was said that many people had thought that the bricks of the pagoda had holes in them with buddist scriptures, believing that it would give them peace and prosperity. Many decided to bring them back home, causing the pagoda to collapse thereafter. The one that we saw was reconstructed after the original pagoda collapsed. It was a fun trip to the West Lake and we enjoyed ourselves very much.

QTSS OVERSEAS TRIP: SHANGHAI-HANGZHOU-SUZHOU IMMERSION TRIP- DAY 4

We had our breakfast and departed for Chun Lei Middle School in the morning. We were very excited as we had been looking forward to meeting our buddies from China since the day we touched down in China. We were pleasantly surprised to see a big LED signboard that welcome us at the entrance of the school. After a brief introduction from the school leaders of Chun Lei Middle School, we were finally introduced to our buddies. They were very friendly and we were quickly settled down as some of our members presented a great performance as a welcome appreciation to the hospitality of the hosting school. Ms Pang and Mr Tay even spent time practicing and joining in the performance despite their busy schedule and they had definitely added some sparks into the performance. Our buddies were very awed by the performance. It makes our hours of practicing and rehearsing worthwhile. 

After that, we followed our buddies to join in one of their lessons. Although we may not have understood the language, but we were amazed at how disciplined the students are. They are attentive, write their notes diligently and are able to stand up and answer their teacher’s questions. They have an interesting 15 minute break where the whole level will assemble at the parade square and do a mass exercise which they called it the “rabbit dance”.

We went to Qing He Fang Ancient Street and were given some time to do our shopping. We enjoyed it thoroughly and appreciate having the break to buy some local products. The street snacks and souvenirs were very different back in Singapore. We learned how to make good decisions when making purchases because everything seemed so interesting to us. 

We gathered at the hotel for a debrief. Our teachers shared with us how to be discerning consumers and gave us valuable advice to improve on our characters and the learning experience of this trip. We look forward to having a fun and fulfilling interaction with our buddies tomorrow.

QTSS OVERSEAS TRIP: SHANGHAI-HANGZHOU-SUZHOU IMMERSION TRIP- DAY 3

Hi everyone! Here is sharing day 3’s events for our trip! For breakfast, the buffet provided by “Le Moment” hotel had a variety of food options. The food prepared were mostly vegetarian friendly ( bread, cereal, fried eggs prepared with vegetable oil) which is good for all of us as well as for our Muslim friends. After breakfast we then proceeded for our first activity of the day.

At around 8am, we arrived at the museum. The tour guide explained to us the history of Lin’an (Former name of Hangzhou) during the Song Dynasty around 800 years ago. It was the capital of the Southern Song of Dynasty. We learnt a lot about the what kind of pottery the royal family used and also about the buildings back then. We learnt that the buildings constructed back then did not use nails. Mr Iskandar shared with us that mortise joints were used back then instead of nails as nails will rust while mortise joints are one of the strongest interconnecting joints when building a structure. 

We proceeded to the Grand Canal area for our next activity. The boat was made of wood and the interior was quite spacious. The ride was very smooth and the cooling weather made the ride very relaxing. During the ride, we had the chance to see willow trees that were not widely available in Singapore. 

Next, we visited the Umbrella Museum and Fan Museum in which we saw many exhibits on how umbrella and fans were made in the past. Also, we saw the evolution of umbrellas from paper to silk. Some of the umbrellas were beautifully decorated with patterns such as dragons and flowers. We learn that history of umbrellas was very complicated, dating back to ancient China. After that, we got the opportunity to do a hands-on fan painting activity. Each student was given one fan and one design. We had to trace the design given onto the fan. We really enjoyed designing our own handicraft.


After dinner, we went to visit Song Dynasty City to watch the musical performance. Before entering the venue, we had the opportunity to try on the beautiful Song Dynasty costumes. Some of us looked like monks while other looked like scholars. Our female classmates looked like princesses and dancers. We proceeded to watch the performance. We were awestruck during the performance because of the special effects. There were waterfall, rain, interesting costumes and breath-taking acrobatics performance. There were 4 acts; three of them showcase legendary stories of Hangzhou (Song Dynasty, Yue Fei and White snake). We learnt about the culture and history of the Song Dynasty. The last act (act 4) showcased the beauty of Hangzhou. Hangzhou is well-known for it tea and silk and is nicknamed ‘the tea city’. We throughly enjoyed the show especially the laser effects and the colorful displays. It was very memorable for us.

QTSS Overseas Trip: Shanghai – Hangzhou – Suzhou Immersion Trip – Day 2

We took a bus from our hotel to Zhou Zhuang Ancient Town and the scenery at Zhou Zhuang was breath-taking. The river was tranquil and tourists could go for boat rides to enjoy the serene water. The boatmen rowing the boats would sing as they rowed the boats and the melodious voice could be heard from ashore.  

The Shi De bridge and Yong An bridge, built in 1573 and 1619 respectively, crossed above the river. The round arc of the Shi De bridge and the square arc of the Yong An bridge, when placed together, made them look like an ancient-style Chinese key. The bridge became an icon of the town, after being featured in Chen Yifei’s painting, Memory of My Hometown.

Our group took pictures in Zhou Zhuang and soaked ourselves in the beautiful scenery. We wish you were there with us!

Besides the beautiful landscape, Zhou Zhuang also had many shops and stalls that sold local food. We had the chance to taste the local delights, with the most memorable and tasty one being the fermented beancurd. The beancurd was soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and its flavor was accentuated when eaten with a special sweet sauce.

We had a bus ride around Su Zhou Industrial park and learnt that Su Zhou is a major center of joint-venture high-tech manufacturing industries. The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) in the east, and the Suzhou New District in the west. It housed many factories from over the world, manufacturing different electronic parts. We were pleasantly surprised to know that only 2 decades ago the Su Zhou Industrial Park was farm land and marveled at the developmental pace of the park.

We also had the chance to take a bullet train ride from Su Zhou to Hang Zhou. Most of our group mates did not ride a bullet train before and thus was a whole new experience for them. They were surprised to find out the speed of the bullet train was over 300km/h! It was a smooth and comfortable journey, best of all, we could charge our electronic devices and enjoy our favourite snacks during the one hour journey to our destination. It was an amazing first experience for most of us!

QTSS Overseas Trip: Shanghai – Hangzhou – Suzhou Immersion Trip – Day 1

Hello everyone! Today is the start of our Learning Journey to Su Zhou and Hang Zhou! We took a plane and reached Pudong Air port after a 5-hour flight! After stepping out of the air port, we took a coach and reached a hotel in Su Zhou. Our dinner place was at a restaurant near Li Gong Di, in Su Zhou Industrial park. Li Gong Di is a causeway that crossed the Su Zhou Jijin lake, which integrates commercial centers with  residential areas. The scenery at Jijin lake was beautiful and the trek at a bridge above Jijin lake was a memory experience for all of us.