I procrastinated for so long before finally getting to this. I have been back from China for 3 days now and editing the pictures brings back great memories but I’m glad to be home! 🙂
Our flight was scheduled at 8am which means we had to reach the airport at 6am for our group check-in. I took a GrabHitch at 5.30am, struggling to hold a conversation with the driver as I battle the Z-monster. All I could think about was “STARBUCKS SOY LATTE”. That morning I had also packed oats, bananas and cacao powder in an Adam’s Peanut Butter Jar. Little did I know, it was the last “healthy”/ “(purely) Vegan” meal I was going to have for the next 5 days. The warm oats with a tinge of chocolatey goodness mixed with the gooey leftover peanut butter that sticks to the roof of your mouth when you take a big bite made my morning so much better.
As a team, we checked-in our luggages and had time to kill. We settled at BurgerKing where some had their breakfast while Tin and I tried our luck on the Starbucks Goodie Grab. Tin, Bu and I shared a 2 for 1 promotion! We absentmindedly went for the Venti sized drinks which was a bad idea knowing that we had to board the plane in less than 15 minutes.. Our morning brain has not registered the fact till we arrived at the boarding gate with a Venti drink in hand, gulping down as much caffeine as we can. (Not a good idea, my stomach felt funny for the whole plane ride)
My very first (vegetarian) airplane meal was BeeHoon with Tofu and some vegetables. It was really delicious but the venti coffee was still sitting uncomfortably in my stomach. I also soon realised that I forgot to pack a book to entertain myself during the flight (3 hour 50 minutes) and I did not pre-download my Spotify playlist which meant I had ZERO songs to listen to. I alternated between sneakily playing iPhone games (they did not allow mobile phones to be switched on) and sleeping. I also played a few rounds of Big Two with Tin, Shan and Jing. My plane buddies, Bu and Yingjie (which will soon become my roomies for the next 4 nights) entertained me from time to time but we mostly slept.
Arriving at GuangZhou airport, we had to take a bus for an hour to reach Jinan University where we were greeted at the on-campus hotel by our exchange friends and teacher-in-charge(s).
They blessed us with packet lunches which caught us by surprise because we each had 2 boxes (1 box of rice and 1 box of dishes). I on the other hand had 1 box of white rice topped with tomato and cabbage). The mountain of rice they provided was definitely a shocker to fellow Singaporeans.
Within an hour of resting and having lunch in our room, Yingjie wanted to leave the room to dispose of our lunch boxes but instead broke the door which left us in fits of laughter which echoed down the corridors. We tried to fix the door but to no avail. (We even thought of buying superglue/duct tape)
We then had a tour around their campus where we first visited the library which was huge and very spacious! The library was very technologically advance and the lady (I suppose she was a teacher) introduced us to the different rooms in the library but my command of mandarin left my interest in the hotel room. Next, we visited an on-campus history exhibit of Jinan University and surprisingly they were once located in Shanghai! (Semi Shanghainese pride because of Feng) It was only after 3 relocation that Jinan University is where it is today which I find so amazing!
They allowed us time to go back to our rooms to put our bags down but we decided that since our door broke, we would just wait on the rest. We then left for the Welcome Dinner. I cannot describe in words how generous the Chinese are! We had an almost 20 course dinner which consisted of prawns, chicken, mutton, coconut-chicken soup, and an abalone EACH. Obviously I had little to eat there but I was so filled with the delicious long grain brown rice with pumpkin, sweet potato and yam dish.
After dinner, we were able to visit the on-campus supermarket which sold SO MANY THINGS. Fruits were so cheap and there were so many interesting food items but I settled for a bunch of bananas and a 4.5 litre bottle of water.
This day started early because we had training from 9am-11am. It was definitely too early to function.. They provided us with an indoor court which they painstakingly measured and stuck red tape on the floor to demarcate the court lines which they would then remove after our trainings. I am immensely grateful for their hospitality!!!
After training, with the lack of time, we had lunch in their campus canteen. I honestly, should be more grateful in the aspect of food, in no way am I complaining because some people do not even have the choice/opportunity to eat. BUT, well.. to the best of my ability I have tried so hard to stay Vegan. In China, it’s pretty much crazy to socialise and eat. They tell me the dish is fully-vegetarian BUT heck I ate minced meat and dried prawns which I then tried so hard to separate from the dish but probably failed… :’-( O WELL.
We then took went back to the sports hall for a friendly match between us and Jinan University Girls Team. I was still pretty disappointed with my performance.. it’s something about volleyball that I can no longer get. I just don’t know.
BUT HECK, DINNER WAS AWESOME. Since I was on a roll and had to “close-one-eye” for every meal.. we had Mala Xiang Guo. One picks ingredients and it gets weighed then stir-fried with Chinese spices according to the spice level. Tin and I shared a bowl and it was THE BEST THING EVER.
Training on this day was cancelled and we went for Dimsum instead. Another round of crazy eating and battling with sneaky meat. After which, Tin, Van and I spent quite a while in the arcade shop next to the Dimsum place. We raced cars, shot hoops and spent a fair bit of our time in the Mini K cubicle where 2 people put on earphones and can sing along karaoke style to the song of their choice.
We then had to walk 1.1km to a
nearby mall which we found only when we “gave up” and wanted to cab back and settle for Starbucks but the Starbucks was connected to the mall we were looking for. It was not a mistake. We found our teammates in Miniso and…..
the rest was history.
Miniso was our go-to. We bought probably 90% of all their We Bare Bears merchandises and they were so worth it! We shopped till we forgot about the time and had to cab back to the sports hall where we collected our shoebags and boarded the chartered bus to another University for a friendly match.
For dinner this day, we had it at a restaurant called “Grandma’s Place”. Another meat battle which was lost. Initially, some of us intended to have Mala for supper but soon scraped the idea because every meal in China left us feeling SO FULL. We slowly made our way back to Jinan University and called it a night.
REST AND RECREATION DAY. Van, Tin, Bu, Yingjie and I had breakfast at the same Dimsum place which was amazeballlls. (I grew numb to the sneaky meat..) We had so much to eat!
We then left to look for the rest. At the mall that they were in, there was Abercombie & Fitch but I stupidly forgot my associate card :’-( SOBBBS.
Taking the public train down to BeiJing Lu was a feat. If you ever think boarding the train in Singapore is difficult, think again. If you ever think that Bishan Platform is crowded during peak hours, THINK AGAIN. It was crazyyyyy and people were literally RUNNING to grab the next train so that they could board. Nonetheless, we managed and with no regrets because I had the best drink ever. I ordered a coconut milk with red bean after checking with the lady that no dairy was used.
We travelled by train to a massage parlour where Jia Le and I shared a room. it was her first time getting a massage. She was asking me how it was going to be like and I told her that usually the same gendered masseuse would be available but at that moment… 2 males came in. Shrugging it off thinking that every other pair had male masseuses as well, we laid down and had our massages amidst awkward conversations held in bad mandarin. it was only after did we realised that we were the only pair with males…. LUL
Dinner was across the road, the Mala restaurant we had on the second night. AMAZEBALLS.
This day was mainly travelling and bidding our China friends goodbye :’-(.
Their hospitality and generosity has definitely overcame all language barriers. They were amazing throughout that 5 days, trying their hardest to accommodate my diet (I was a burden, yes, whoops). I’m super grateful and I hope I’ll get to see y’all soon!!
A picture with the roomies to commemorate our success in not having to pay for damages that we have caused on our short stay. We blessed the entire hotel (yes, block 1 & block 2) with our laughter and screams when we encounter
gross friendly buggies.
And the eight of us that ate so much our stomachs ached, thank you for the trip because the 5 days were amazingly filled with so much goodness and love from everyone of you. We bonded and possibly will continue fighting in upcoming competitions together? 😉
This trip has been nothing short of amazing! Miniso was amazing :-p