Having arrived back in Beijing on Saturday night, we enjoyed our ‘...last supper’ together and were taken back to our comfortable Jinfeng hotel by our Beijing Tour Guide from the first week. We had as little as 4 hours sleep as we had to be up at 3am. When we met in the hotel Lobby, we received a packed breakfast and took the coach (in the much less humid black of night) to Beijing airport. We made our way through initial security checks (even at the entrance to the airport) and were taken to the Check In desks by our Chinese host from North East Yucai School, Daybreak.
It was at this point we had to say our Good-Byes to Daybreak, the Chinese teacher who had stayed with us the whole time in Shenyang, as well as our Beijing Tour Guide. Despite being worn out from our adventures, we took the time to capture some photographs of the people who had taken care of us and helped us make some of these memories we’d hold dear to our hearts for the rest of our lives.
After a tiring journey, (which many of us slept through), we arrived in Dubai, (our final destination before we returned to Manchester). It was at this point that Miss Cox gave those who had won ‘Star of the Day’ or ‘Star of the Week’ in Mandarin their prizes: Chinese Postcard chocolates. Jacob also got a couple of boxes of belated birthday chocolates for the final journey home too.
Before we boarded the plane, Miss Cox took the opportunity to remind us that this would probably be one of our last ‘Roll Calls’ before the trip was over. Then, we spent a moment, reflecting on the trip and our two weeks spent together; the fact that although we may have experienced some challenges throughout the trip, this may, for many of us, be a once in a life-time opportunity- one that we should never forget. With the spirit we left Manchester with and a 3-2-1 countdown, we cheered: ‘Team SPH’ and shared a group hug.
On our final flight, we welcomed a selection of new films and some more traditional English food which included an afternoon tea of cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches and a warm scone with jam and cream. We had our discussions about what our first English meal at home would be... Alex was unbelievably excited for her pizza, whilst others looked forward to a roast dinner or burgers.
Once we’d landed in Manchester, the thought of such home comforts seemed tangible in hours or even minutes until we had to wait for the luggage... all 22 cases and an hour or so later... Unfortunately, 21 returned as Abigail’s remained in Dubai, due to be returned over the next couple of days... Perhaps it was a sign that she didn’t want to come home and that she will return to China some day... she definitely immersed herself in all aspects of the Chinese way of life, that was for sure. We all did in one way or another. (Even Sam who managed to try a few vegetables!)
Hopefully, this won’t be good-bye.
Until our next SPH trip in 2020, or we make the journey ourselves: