It was a real legendary trip for me to take part of this school camp. My school organized this annual camp with a company called Dragonfly to bring all the Grade 6 students to Zhaoqing, in southern part of China. We spent 4 days and 3 nights there and it was my first time traveled outside of Hong Kong without my parents.
The purpose of the trip was to improve our personal development and leadership skills; to take action and participate adventure sports; to understand the local community and culture; and to strengthen our concept of environmental awareness and sustainability. From this whole idea of camping, we learn to plan, we get to experience and we then reflect.
On the day of November 27, all the Grade 6 students arrived at school ready to depart to Zhaoqing, China. Everyone had his or her suitcase and day bag ready to board the bus; obviously we were very excited for the adventure. We were separated into different color groups – Green, Blue, Orange, Yellow and Red. I was in the Green group headed by Ms. Kinsinger. I was so happy because Ms. Kinsinger is a very nice teacher and cares for her students. She is a very fun teacher and you would never feel bored with her. Anyway, we quickly got on to the bus after putting our suitcases into the luggage compartment.
So, we departed from our school at 8:30am. It was raining. We sat on the bus for about one and half hour, we then reached to the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border. It wasn’t packed as I thought it would be. We then went through the customs and let the immigration officers checked our passport documents. It took quite a while. After that, we got on to our same bus and continue our journey. It took another 4 hours before we reached to our destination – Zhaoqing. We then had to take a ferry to get to our resort called Nine Dragon Lake Resort. Talking about the ferry, it was a very old and noisy ferry but I didn’t mind. The captain was sailing the ferry like it was a drift car.
It took no time we reached to the resort, we carried our suitcases and we walked up to the lobby of the hotel. Everyone was chatting about the subjects they talked about on the bus. I felt that the bus was boring but I did talk to other people just to keep me going. We were then introduced to our Dragonfly staff, my Green Group’s instructor was Fernando who was Spanish, he was very friendly. My group mate Mackenzie and I know how to speak a bit of Spanish so we spoke some Spanish with Fernando.
When we were at the lobby we did some games, and then we went to check out our rooms. Kai and Riley shared a room with me; we had a big room on the top floor! We then left our room and the teachers went through the schedule with us for the day. We were supposed to arrive a bit earlier but the bus was late. So our group missed out the activity for ink stone carvings. For the evening, we had dinner at a fancy restaurant – Dynasty and the food was quite good. We all enjoyed it but there could have been more food.
After the dinner, we had the DF Challenge. We had to do a bunch of tasks made by the Dragonfly instructors. We had to make a group of 6; I was in a group with Riley, Tom, Roark, Stephen and Kai. We named our group the “Wasabis”, which I thought was creative since we were in the green group. We made team chant and we completed many tasks created by Dragonfly. Overall we came 3rd in the grade that I was proud of. After we had our debriefing we went to our rooms, we did our nightly routines and went to sleep. I couldn’t go to sleep till 11 PM. Sum up for the day, it was actually quite boring for me since the bus ride was super long and we were told that it would be raining the whole time till the day we leave. I was a bit disappointed, I thought that the bus ride could have been more enjoyable and we could have arrived earlier so we could do more. But I have learnt how to be patience!
On Day 2 morning, my roommates and I were woken up by my watch alarm, which was set at 6 AM. We got ready for the day like brushing our teeth, getting ready our day bags and changing to new clothes. We were the second room group to be out of our beds; by the time we were out it was 6:30. We had to be out by 7 AM so it was a relief that we didn’t sleep in, because when you sleep in it is so embarrassing. When everyone in the Green Group was present we headed to our target – “breakfast”. I was so hungry that I could eat a horse. When we arrived at the dinning hall we sat down and looked at the food. We weren’t really amazed on how good the food looked; my table didn’t eat that much food though. I ate some food, which was filling so I had energy for the day because I knew that the day would be a lengthy day.
After breakfast, we went to a room where we learnt to make our own paper. In fact, paper was invented in China during the period of Emperor Wu between 140 BC and 86 BC, even thought the word paper is come from Egypt “Papyrus”. Anyway, the set up in the room was like that there were cut up pieces of paper, but we had to rip it up even more, I wasn’t really looking forward to that. So we were divided into groups and started ripping. After the process, we put some water into the ripped paper in a plastic bowl and we went to the local Paper factory in Zhaoqing.I had never been to a paper factory so I was looking forward to it.
When we were in the factory the smell was revolting, but everyone bared with it and we listened to the counselor. The counselor explained the process of making paper in Zhaoqing and how it was made without using chemicals which ordinary paper does use. When we got out of the paper factory we went back to the bus and had waited, we had some delicious granola bars and apples, and we devoured everything with no guilt. We went back to camp and continued making our paper. Most people’s paper were really wet (including mine) because we either put too much paper or we didn’t do a good job at oozing the water out. I enjoyed this activity because I got to get my hands wet, shred paper and make my own paper out of RECYCLED paper – “YES! environmental awareness and sustainability”. It was extravagant!
Next, we went to eat lunch. THERE WAS SO MUCH FOOD! My eye suddenly looked much bigger! We pretty much attacked the food. Being polite, I waited for everyone to be done and then I would take some food, sometimes I made the wrong decision because there was not much food left. In my opinion the food was the second worst thing about camp because I don’t enjoy chinese food that much. The worst thing in camp was the bus ride, it took forever! I said to myself that “Learn to be patience!”
Since the blue group didn’t do their cableway hike on the first day, the Green group did a hike first and let the Blue group did the cableway hike. We walked for a long time, the trails were very slippery. I slipped and fell but no damage was done. We walked up hills and hiked on rocky floors, it was a bit dangerous but quite fun. It was a real adventure! I talked to my friends Stephen and Mackenzie and sang some songs. We arrived at a cemetery and paid respect to the fallen one, there was money and Fernando said if you ever stole the money you would have bad luck forever. The feeling in the cemetery was very solem and to be honest I did not like those occasions. We went somewhere up in a hill and played some games like Splat which was so fun. I am really good at Splat. Next, we went on the Cableway hike where we walked on the wire and had to use a hook to hold on. I was very scared but boy did I enjoy it. It was fantastic!
For the evening, we had the BBQ. We cooked fish balls, meatballs, corn and basically meat. The food was pre-cooked so we didn’t need to worry too much about raw food. After my stomach was full, we headed back to the hotel for lights out. I felt that the BBQ was a highlight for the day because we got to talk about the day and to tell stories even though time did fly by. I really enjoyed it, it was time to get to know your friends better. I treasured the moment I had with my teachers and school friends. The memory would keep forever.
After the beautiful BBQ, we were back in the rooms, brushed our teeth and settled in for bed. Right before the sleep train was leaving the station, I reflected on the day we had: rain, paper, cable hike and BBQ. In my mind I felt that this day was way better than the previous one because it was move-active-packed and by a mile long way more exciting. Right around then the train had left the station and I was settling in for the long journey.
On Day 3 – the final full day at Zhaoqing, I was woke up by my watch alarm. I said in my breath “Here we go again”. We got everything ready and went out to the lobby. No rain which was a relief. As soon as everybody in the Green group was at the lobby we embarked on our trip to breakfast. There was the usual as the previous day but this day I wasn’t hungry. I felt that I had no erge to eat, I tried to forget that erge and it worked. Our first activity was Chinese Painting, just to tell you I’m no friend with Chinese Painting because I am not good in art. The master was there to teach us two paintings, she looked extremely experienced. We started off with painting a Crane we had to follow her steps which she promised us would lead to success. We followed and it looked amazing. The other painting was the lake in Zhaoqing,I followed her instructions but I made a huge mistake with painting a temple and somehow she helped me cover it up and made it look good. I thought that my painting was bad, at least I tried my best. But I do pay my respect to Chinese painting, eventhough I am not a fan, because Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. It is an important part for Chinese culture.
The last activity of the trip was the best: “The Great Race”. After we boarded the bus, I had never felt so excited. When we arrived we were put into groups and given instructions, I do admit I wasn’t listening because the adrenaline was flowing in my body. We had an hour to get all the questions answered, we weren’t allowed to run so we speed walked. If we spent 5 minutes or more on one question we would skip and come back to it later. We skipped some questions but it didn’t matter since those were the ones never found by any contestant. We arrived first and I felt proud because we put lots of hard work and it paid off because later we found out that we came 2nd out of the whole grade with 95 points.
After our dinner, we had our fun camp fire. We were singing and dancing away, then the night ended there. We went back to sleep and I reflected again: No rain, paintings, adrenaline, excitement, racing, fire and second….
…..we woke up to a knock from a teacher. It was already another brand new day. We quickly packed and got ready for breakfast, we cleared everything and left the room for the last time. Same breakfast and same feeling. We boarded the ferry and went to the departing area, we boarded the bus and sat down; and headed back to the homeland.
This was a LEGENDARY trip, I couldn’t say anything more.
I made a good friendship with my group counselor Fernando, we made a good connection because we knew Spanish and we followed sports which Spaniards love. I have no contact details with him which is sad, I really wanted to stay in touch but it doesn’t matter because I know somehow I will find him. Fernando was a guy who really cared for his students and thats why I like him. I want to meet him again someday.
During this trip I felt that I was a risk taker because I tried new things, I believed in myself that I could accomplish it. For example Chinese Painting, I am no artist but I tried my best and it worked. I had never tried Chinese Painting but I tried. Another example is trying new food from Zhaoqing, at first I was very optimistic about eating the local food but then when I tried it the flavors were amazing. I was also caring, when my friend slipped I went straight to him and asked if he was OK. A different example was when we were eating breakfast, lunch or dinner I would wait for my turn to take the food and I used good table manners.
My favorite part about camp was the Great Race, I felt that it was really competitive and we got to see Zhaoqing as a whole. We were basically like tourists walking around snapping photos, I LOVED it. My least favorite part was the bus ride, it took 7 hours to get to Zhaoqing and even longer to get back to Hong Kong. There was barely any entertainment on the bus which was quite annoying, but again – “Be patient!”
To conclude, this was a amazing trip with some setbacks like the rain but no one moaned about it, which was good because we kept a positive attitude. I thought that everything went well, but I wish we could have stayed longer. Zhaoqing is a great place to go camping and I do recommend it to people.
If you have read this whole post, I am applauding you because I think it is bit long. But I hope you have enjoyed it.
I have one last thing to say: WHAT A TRIP!