Friday 9th March
On Friday we had to finalise our project scope of work, and ensure our client was happy with it. The morning was spent discussing how they fundraise and perhaps how we could help with this. It’s really hard work ensuring we’re all on the same page, and understand the same information as there is a danger things can get lost in translation. We did however successfully finalise the scope and get it signed off with our client, Ms. Jiang.
Saturday 10th March
This weekend we spent some time exploring the local areas – first stop was Suzhou (苏州市, pronounced su-jo) – known as the “Venice of the Orient’, as there are a lot of canals, rivers and lakes in the city. The full group of thirteen, plus a few of our project assistants we have working with us headed on a bullet train there, around 95km from Changzhou. The PAs are doing all the communication / written translations for us whilst we work the clients, they’re all at the local universities and some even study English Translation for their degree. It was amazing having the them with us as they really helped with reading signs and getting us tickets to all the attractions once we arrived haha. I’m going to have to learn a lot of handy phrases from them before Rach and I go solo in China!
The first stop on our magical Suzhou tour was the Humble Administrator’s Garden, originally built in 1509, it is now listed as a world Heritage site. At 52,000 square metres, it’s the largest of all the gardens in Suzhou and, no other classic garden in the country has been honored more than this one. We wandered around, enjoying the scenery, there was even blossoms coming out on some of the trees, which I was LOVING taking photos of, of course (love a flower shot).
After lunch we took a bus ride through the city towards the Waicheng River, on which we took a boat ride. It was lovely, but unfortunate that the guide was obviously speaking only in Chinese. I used the 30mins to have a relax in the back seat checking out the view as we went along.
Our next stop was the Hanshan Temple (Cold Mountain Temple), beautifully built in the architectural style of the Qing Dynasty. We explored the area, the buildings and a lot of amazing buddhas people were praying in front of. In one particular courtyard, I was popular with the locals and had quite a few selfies and photos with people, haha – it was hilarious. Funny when you see people taking photos slyly, but funnier when they ask for a proper photo!
Our final stop was Shantang, a gorgeous market-style street adorned with lanterns, stalls and shops. We had a stroll down as a big group, but then split; some headed home and a few of us stayed for an evening beer as the dusk fell. I was loving life with the lanterns lighting up – reminded me of Hoi An’s lantern festival when I was in Vietnam. After a couple of beers by the river, we headed back to Changzhou – 17k steps later I was tucked up in bed, exhausted and SO ready for a lie in on Sunday.
Sunday 11th March
Today, we all separated off into groups for adventures in Changzhou; after a long, relaxing breakfast a group of us headed out for the 1.5hour walk to Hongmei Park. The weather was beautiful and we were all in t-shirts after about 5 mins of walking! After successfully navigating to a location near to the park, we managed to source some food from a few local stalls, for a picnic. Pork buns, cold noodle salad, jack fruit and strawberries accompanied us to the insanely busy park. Like in London, as soon as the sun comes out, EVERYONE heads to the park! We shuffled our way through the crowds to a spot by a boating lake to eat our picnic.
After the food we spent the afternoon exploring, finding ponds, buildings, lakes, boats, pathways, and flowers. Other notable moments included Willow translating that a guy had said “how are these foreigners not cold, they’re in tshirts?” (everyone was honestly in coats, despite the temperature being like 20 degrees), a small girl coming up to me and speaking in perfect English, experiencing a Changzhou haunted house, a man grabbing Jimmy’s muscles and giving him the thumbs up and me dressing up as a minion and dancing with some kids hahah.
Everywhere we go, we have our photo taken, or someone will speak to us – it’s so funny and always such an adventure too. Back to work tomorrow – looking forward to making some progress with our client work!