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Forenote

This blog was set up as a requirement in a module that I am taking in this Overseas Immersion Programme in Tianjin, China. I am required to write a daily journal and it will be graded and has a weightage of 50%. All visitors are welcomed.

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Today we head home. Finally, after more than a month we can get to eat chicken rice, prawn mee and char kway teow again.

I planned to wake up at 8.30am this morning because I wanted to visit Huo Yuan Jia’s old home early but was unable to wake up that early. I woke up at 10am instead, and tried to set off at 11am but I was stopped by my lecturer from going because it was too late already. We needed to take a bus to Beijing at 6pm, and I still needed to continue to pack my stuff. With no choice, I went back to my room to watch some videos and pack finish my luggage. I also had my last packet of instant noodles for lunch.

At 4+, the guides came for a final goodbye and also to take some stuff that we didn’t want anymore such as hangars, basins and unopened food (instant noodles). I also took that time to give the present to Nancy, having put the photo frame with the photograph in it plus the vouchers into a nice little bag that I bought from 八里台.

This memory will last forever.

Remembering that a friend asked for instant foods as a souvenir, I went down to the shops in the school and bought over 40 RMB worth of preserved foods such as sausages, chicken drumsticks and eggs.

Upon returning back, I quickly stuffed them into my hand carry luggage and then brought everything down because it was already time to assemble.

Soon, we put our bags into the bus and after many waves, goodbyes, hugs and well wishes, we finally parted with our local friends and started our journey home with a 3 hour bus ride to Beijing Capital International Airport.

The toll gate just before entering Beijing

On the bus I slept for about an hour, and then later munched on some tidbits shared on board by my friends. I purposely left 10 RMB after my shopping earlier for dinner at the airport but unfortunately, because my luggage tore on the way to Beijing, I had to borrow 20 RMB from a friend to pay for a luggage wrapping service. With no money to eat, I opened some of my sausages and had them fill my stomach before eating something on board the flight.

In no time we were on board SQ801, on route back home, to Singapore.

9V-SWT, Boeing 777-300ER, our ride home

I ordered a cup noodle (instant noodles again?!) on board before breakfast was served and spent the whole time watching movies and shows. I felt that sleeping on an aircraft was a real waste of time because there was just so much one can do.

Almost over Singapore, we arrived just as the sun rose

I will miss Tianjin, I will miss my friends and I really wish to be able to meet them again. It had been a great and truly enriching 35 days, thank you, all.

(Note: This is the last blog post for this blog.)

(Note: Read title to the tune of “One Night in 北京 – 信乐团”)

A free day today, and I made the most out of it. I didn’t sleep through the afternoon because we all went out for lunch at 11am. The guides brought us to this restaurant themed with Chinese martial arts comics, such that the place looked like one of the olden buildings, with windows made with crossed wooden sticks and covered in wax paper.

It was a really unique experience here, the chairs were really the old wooden benches and the whole place was styled in the Wong Fei Hong era where people drank wine from saucers or directly from the pot/jug. Even all the dishes that came had names, unfortunately I couldn’t remember any because they were spoken really fast and in their own accent. Also, one very special thing about this place is that you need not place your order, you just tell them your dietary preferences and they will pair the dishes accordingly. This was probably the best dining experience I’ve had the whole trip because all the others were either not nice or just plain normal.

The restaurant entrance

The interior

A glutinous rice and meat ball for starters

Mutton with beancurd in spicy sauce

We tried pouring the drink into the saucer at one go

The bunch of us enjoying lunch

Fried pork pieces

Black fungus and brocolli on the left, pineapple prawn thingy on the right

Corn and dates pork soup

Fish tofu (like fish cake) and green beans

Braised chicken

Biscuit prawn, our Singaporean cereal prawns' cereal is better than these crackers

A flute

This is the wooden bench I was talking about earlier. Oh, and yes I planked it too,

There were drawing all over the walls

Beautiful maidens

An old kung fu master

Some axe

A full painting

Shaolin!

A decorative pair of swords

We have the guides to thank for the lunch, as they insisted on paying for the lunch as a present to us all

Just because it the place had the martial arts theme

After lunch, we walked back to the hotel while the guides went to the supermarket to get their own stuff. Besides me and my room mate, the others then went to the KTV at 滨江道 to sing with our two teachers. My room mate and I went back to 八里台 to get a few last things. I got a really cool square umbrella and my room mate got some board games.

At slightly past 4, I cycled to the photograph shop and collected my photo and found that it fit perfectly. As I went back to the hotel to put my things down, I saw these two cute dogs.

They are called Chow Chow, or Lion Dogs

Practcally impossible to breed in Singapore, unless you keep it in an air-conditioned room 24/7

Once I put my things down, I went straight to 滨江道 and joined my friends for at KTV. I thought that they would end at 7pm as said earlier, but instead ended at 6pm giving me only slightly more than half an hour to sing because of the time I reached. Unfortunately so, I only managed to sing two songs.

I felt pretty good singing the songs from my favourite band

Because the guides also frequent this place, I thought of buying vouchers for them, but when I asked, they said they didn’t have any. Unsatisfied, I persisted and they showed that they have vouchers, but it is not for sale. Continuing my quest to gain them, I asked and finally they asked me how much my friends spent. I told them that we spent 140 RMB, and then they gave me two vouchers that is given for every 50 RMB spent. I felt really happy upon gaining them because this would really make a great present for the guides.

Following that, I immediately went back to the hotel for dinner (I had two instant noodles left) while the others went shopping.

When the others came back, they decided to release the lanterns we bought earlier in the trip as it was the last night already. I joined them and we headed to the garden in the school to left them go, not before writing our wishes on it.

That's my wish on the right in silver

Three lanterns, three different colours

Off it goes!

Finally, it was the last day of lessons for us. We had revision this morning because we finished the syllabus yesterday. After school, I went searching for a place to develop a photo to put in the photo frame I bought the day before. I remembered seeing a photo shop on the way back from the water park while cycling on Friday and thus rented a bike to check it out.

A short ride later, I reached, passed the file via a flash drive and managed to get the photograph developed, though I needed to come back again tomorrow at 4pm to collect it.

Back at the hotel, I spent the whole night completing an APS assignment that was due the next day and only managed to complete it past midnight. Man, have I got to work on my time management skills.

I actually wanted to go shopping the day before but because I wasted the day sleeping, my room mate and I went today, specifically to check out the fourth level of the shopping mall (now I’ve learnt that the name of the shopping mall is 八里台 (Bā Lǐ Tái)) because at our last visit, the mall closed when we were halfway through this level. I thought of buying a present for Nancy here, and geniously came up with the perfect gift to remember us by: a photo frame with a photo of us all. So I purchased a photo frame here, and some souvenirs for my friends back home. I also bought a pair of sky blue boat shoes at 220 RMB which was probably the most expensive thing I’ve bought in the entire trip. Running short of cash (because another friend borrowed 300 RMB from me earlier), we headed back after shopping and I had instant noodles for dinner. Again.

Before we went back though, we saw this:

The driver didn't judege the height of his truck correctly and banged into the bottom of the flyover

School in the morning, even on a weekday. Well, it was only until Monday, so that we can finish up the syllabus and have a free day on Tuesday.

Anyways, this was lunch

I was rather tired after school and then headed back to take a nap but that nap turned out to be a full sleep, and I woke up late at night. Seeing that I have some unfinished work to do (blog posts), I spent the whole night and morning blogging and managed to type out more than a week’s worth of posts.

Day Thirty: Graduation!

In the morning, we had lessons, but only for a short while because the local teachers came to hand us our graduating certificates for completing this immersion programme. There were a few short speeches by the teachers around, and then the certificates and a gift were given out.

All smiles

The cover of the certificate

Shouldn't "oversea" be 'overseas" instead?

This beautiful crystal (probably glass) horse was the gift, symbolising 马到成功

The five amazing teachers who've helped us along this journey

We all got a degree already!

Following the graduation ceremony, we had a graduating lunch with the teachers and the guides at the hotel’s Chinese restaurant on the second level. Unfortunately, I am unable to give compliments about the food because they were just really weird and of mediocre quality.

We students were seated in this four table room, while the teachers were in another

The guides were so kind to give us a gift with thoughts from the heart

We also had gifts for them, some of us bought presents and they even wrote a letter for their guide. I however, haven’t bought anything yet because I couldn’t think of what to give to them. I learnt that they were not leaving Tianjin for their home town this National Day holiday because they have decided to stay in school to study for their upcoming exams. This means that we can still meet again and it gave me time to get a present for Nancy.

Memories that will last a lifetime

After lunch, the bunch of us took some photos and then decided to go cycling around the area. We rented bikes from the school’s bike shop for 1 RMB per hour, but they were rather old bikes. They still worked, and we cycled to the water park and went in to play for some time before leaving and cycling back the other way around the park.

Yeah, that's me.

And that's some of my friends.

When we entered the water park, there was this big flower bed with tons of beautiful flowers that are there to celebrate China’s independence day.

Flowers arranged in words. Some were fake though.

One very nice little flower

We also fed fishes with packets of fish food going at 3 RMB each. We bought about 5, managing to get the whole school to our area.

This is how dirty the water of the water ride was. Who'd really want to get themselves drenched in this?

And 5 of us rode this, though it required some level of persuasion from me

This was before it started. No, I wasn't crying.

Two friends and I also sat another ride that spinned around while bobbing up and down. It wasn’t very exciting but I made it fun by playing games like scissors, paper, stone with one of them on the ride.

We soon cycled around the park and went back to pay the fees. The guides went back to their dorms and we went for dinner.

Because the following day was National Day, fireworks were seen all week long, oddly, even in the day.

Shaky hands

There were morning lessons again today but in the afternoon from 4-7pm there was a soccer tournament between us, the local students and the international students. By ‘us’ I meant ‘not including me’ so I sat by and watched the matches go by.

Some of my classmates actually played quite well

Weirdly though, there was sort of a protest practice going on

Curious, my teacher asked a local student and she explained that it was in preparation for the nation’s National Day on 1st October, and they are promoting or cheering for their school faculty.

After the match ended I got some barbecue again, this time having mushrooms and eggplant only. It was still amazingly delicious. Unfortunately, when I went back to the room afterwards I slept again immediately until the next morning when it was time to get to school.

We had a visit to the Civil Aviation University of China today after our morning lessons and went there to just — in laymen terms — see see, look look. But it was very interesting, the campus was really huge and it was situated right next to the Tianjin Binhai International Airport.

We started at one of the campus buildings, they had many turbojet and turbofan engines placed in the hall for display and educational purposes.

Turbojets

Turbofans. Don't ask me who that is.

Manufactured by Rolls-Royce plc

We we all then guided by a headmaster around the campus, showing us the various classes the students go through, and the facilities they have to assist in their learning. We were surprised to learn that our Singapore Polytechnic counterparts were also here to study! They are on their 6 week attachment here, and I wished my attachment could be at such a cool place.

There was a flight simulation class going on, we were led around by one of the headmasters, seen on the left.

A Boeing 737 preparing for takeoff

Surprisingly there were many female teachers around. I actually thought she was the cleaning lady at first!

If you didn't know a black box is not black. It's orange so that it can be located easily.

There were tracking of real time events over the university too

Here I saw an SQ flight flying overhead somewhere, a Boeing 777-300ER, registration 9V-SWF

We then exited the campus building and toured the rest of the campus, hangars, airfield and engine workshops.

They had a few hangars, and all of them were very big

Landing gear modules

A bunch of aircraft on static display and for learning purposes

A very old aircraft. It almost looks like a train of sorts with the wheels of the trailer it is on.

Its flight deck

We then visited the campus’ airfield, actually part of the land of the adjacent airport, holding some twenty over aircraft.

And the school owns a bunch of old planes outside. Here is a Federal Express Boeing 727.

Okay, a 'bunch' is an understatement. They have a lot!

Cool nose, is a gunner meant to sit in there?

An even older plane

They even had bi-planes! I've never seen any of them in my life before. How old these must be!!

Probably a fighter jet that might be able to reach Mach 1

Another fighter jet, this one definitely not able to reach Mach 1 due to its use of propellers

And this day I managed to unlock another life achievement… I PLANKED ON AN AIRCRAFT!! Albeit an old and retired one, but still.

Another achievement unlocked. PLANKED ON AN AIRCRAFT

Of course they had helicopters there

A very nice view of a T-tail configuration aircraft

Next we visited the engine workshop, housing several turbofans and turbojets.

A high-bypass ratio turbofan

A cut-away section of the core of a turbofan

Rolls-Royce RB-211, the predecessor to the Trent series engines

A bunch of turbojets

Just for kicks, here is a picture of a squashed lizard

I found the trip very insightful and interesting because there was just so much to see and do there, but we left soon in a few hours after we came and I, as usual, went back to sleep again when I reached back to the hotel.

Presentation started early today at 8am, though my group went only at 9.30am. I thought that the food in China would be one very common topic to present about, but it turns out that it was the transport instead, as many as five students presented about it. When it came time, I used my laptop and started off, surprisingly giving one of the more confident presentations I’ve given in some time. Everything went smoothly.

At 10am, we had special guests. The deputy principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic was here to visit along with a handful of other head of divisions and some local teachers. By the time they came, my group just ended and another group which had a video to show went up and played the photo montage for all to see. Unfortunately, because the VIPs were short of time, they had to pause that group’s presentation and do a discussion with us, asking us for feedback about the immersion programme. After some time, they all left and everything else proceeded as planned.

I remember going back to the room to sleep again because I did not manage my sleep times well enough and kinda messed it up. I need to fix it soon or it’s gonna be trouble.

Having already discussed with my group mates what roles we are to take, I started churning out my slides for the presentation. Every group is expected to present 5 minutes per person on anything and everything about China. Our group chose to do separate issues independently, sharing our observations, experiences and thoughts with the class. I chose to talk about the traffic and transport conditions of Tianjin, while my group mates talked about food, living standards and social communications.

This is what my presentation will include.

See if you can read my horrendous handwriting

I also went down to the nearby bus stop to get some pictures on the buses and taxis.

A typical bus. Costs 1.5RMB flat rate for a non-airconditioned bus and 2RMB for an air-condioned one.

A double decker bus. Same price applies. I prefer this because it's better for sightseeing.

This is their bus stop. It's quite different from ours. At first I didn't even know that this was a bus stop.

Their bus services information

Taxi. Common, all the same. 10 - 25 RMB for short trips.