Taking in Historic Nanjing Before Returning to Shanghai

Today was certainly a more relaxed day, the restaurant at the hotel did not start serving breakfast until 7.30 so we were forced to have a lie in, much to the annoyance of the students! It was one of the easiest mornings for staff to wake up the students as we simply called them on the internal phone system, letting it ring until we heard a groggy voice on the end of the line.
We packed before breakfast and so were ready to go straight away once we had eaten.
Jordan and Caroline, one of his post graduate students, came to meet us and we hopped in the minibus and headed to Fuzi Miao this is a very historic part of Nanjing.  To get to it we drove through one of the historic city walls, we looked around the historic area and its waterways, with the skyscrapers of Nanjing looming in the background. Today was warm and sunny so it was pleasant strolling around. The group are drawing attention, today an entire tour group stopped to admire Omar’s corn rows and random people joined our group photos keen to hold the banner.  The shopping area gave a chance to hone bartering skills, I think Rhys did best, he would look up smile sweetly and hold up a 5 yuan  note, and seemed to get whatever he wanted! Waving cats were a hit, but again the students have been careful and considered in what they have purchased, tapestry, fans and artwork, I even managed to pick up a new pair of sunglasses,  a bargain at just £1 (see photo). In Fuzi Miao we stopped at the ancient imperial examination room, here students would have sat an exam, if they passed then they could work for the emperor, there were 20,000 individual exam booths and the students had to sit  160 exams, including learning 4 books with 150,000 characters by rote. Out of 20,000 just 200 would pass each year. Our year 10 students seemed to think that GCSEs were not so bad after all!
Once again James and Jordan were great hosts and guides, with endless patience answering all questions posed, they really looked after the students, and have promised to meet up with them at Jack Hunt when they visit in June to promote the gap year to year 12/13.
On the way back to the station we had a quick stop at the city gate, this was in ingenious design, there are 4 sets of gates, any invaders are let in  and then the gates are all closed, allowing them to be picked off by  the defenders of the city. Each stone has the name of the stone mason and the supervisor carved in. if the stone was not up to quality they were executed!
We returned to the station, said our goodbyes to James and Jordan and headed for the train, I am writing this sat on the bullet train, having had  an amazing sandwich lunch (see image!)  travelling at 300 kmph back to Shanghai. When we get back to school students are going on homestay. A chance for a proper lie in and a weekend to relax with host families. For staff, also a chance for a little down time, but also to meet with Chinese colleagues to develop stronger and further links. This afternoon we are meeting with Staff from Pu Xing school, this is our ‘Pixl’ partner school. Tomorrow with a headteacher from a special school and the British Council. I was surprised to hear on Wednesday that our 14 school partnership project is only one of 2 running in Eastern China.
When the students return on Sunday we have a farewell party and then on Monday to the airport. Not sure where the time has gone!
Mr Barwise