Going back to school

Added 31 Oct 2012

Yoghurts are proving one of the most popular breakfast items on board our Viking Emerald ship. There’s a daily choice of five flavours, some the same and some new ones. Blueberry and mango are favourities. But there’s often green tea, coffee, banana and pear too. Of course there is a huge choice of other breakfast items, all freshly prepared by the excellent galley team and presented by our friendly waiters and waitresses. It’s a great start to the day. After breakfast, we join our coaches and tour guides and head off to the Jingzhou School. The drive through town is another exciting experience. Although we’re told all drivers must pass a driving test, we’re not convinced this is put into practice. Basically, the rule seems to be “if you see a gap, go for it”. And that is irrespective of whether the gap is on your side of the road or on the opposite side. As a result vehicles come and go in all directions and cut across without looking. It’s surprising we don’t see more accidents, but fortunately we’re in good hands because our tourist trained coach drivers do know what they’re doing.

Arriving at the local school, we’re greeted by a performance of dancing by some of the school children. A drumming troupe is also put through a routine by a rather fierce looking teacher with noisy cymbals – Richard keeps his distance! Following this welcome, each group of guests is invited to visit a classroom and meet the children. School books are shown, English is spoken, and some of the classes even sing to us. And some of us return the compliment – “old McDonald has a farm” sounds great in Mandarin! After a fairly noisy class time, we escape to the playing fields and watch some 3 year old children playing games. Some of our guests join in! We’re all sad to leave, it has been a wonderful visit. We leave some donations to help the school funds.

Back on board, we set sail for Yueyang. On route we enjoy another lecture from our programme director, Jin. This time it is China’s history lecture. And there is plenty of history in China! At 5pm, Jin’s back working again, giving us an introduction to China tea culture at the 5pm Tea Ceremony. The ship crew and particularly the food and beverage team have also been hard at work. It’s Halloween tonight, and the entire dining room has been decked out accordingly. All the staff are suitably dressed, including the Furlongs team. Unfortunately for Dawn and Richard, some of their guests think the ghostly masks and skeleton costumes are an improvement!