‘The Cantonese eat everything with four legs but the table, and everything that flies but an aeroplane’
Time has flown! And in less than 4 hours, I’ll be on the train to Heathrow, running on little more than the over-excited butterflies in my stomach that are refusing to let me sleep. The quote above, is my paraphrasing of Ken Hom who actually returned to his hometown of Guangzhou in his culinary adventures through China; I can’t quite decide if it should be amusing or disturbing but one thing’s for sure – very soon I’ll be able to report back and let you know! I’ll keep this blog up to date as far as I can while fully enjoying the experiences that the new continent, culture and cuisine can offer.
So, wish me luck, and we’ll see how far I can get on the ethos of try everything once!*
*small print: within reason (I’m sure we’ll find out whose reasoning that’ll be pretty soon) :)
Getting a visa has proven to be a pretty simple affair for us as they’ve been sorted out through the uni. All we needed to do was complete the task of filling in a 4 page form… sounds simple, eh? Well apparently not for me, which leads me to Top tip #1: In order to avoid facepalming, fill in the visa application form for China…and not India. Haha don’t worry, I did put 2 and 2 together before I’d completed the visa form for India; that didn’t stop me however assuming that the visa would be a separate document, which it isn’t – it arrived stuck inside my passport. Only the first of many learning experiences, I’m sure!
An essential for any trip abroad, all this took was a trip to the travel nurse who informed me that I would need 2 for this trip: DTP and Hep A. Luckily however, they didn’t cost a thing as I had them just before new legislation to start charging for either was introduced.
Hand on heart, I’ve got to admit that in this case I fell into the female stereotype of flinging the doors of my full-to-bursting wardrobe and exclaiming that I have nothing to wear! Well, not quite that bad, but the realisation that my student wardrobe of jeans and a hoodie won’t quite cut it in China may have tilted my world on its axis that little bit more.
Therefore, preparing for this China trip has naturally translated to a call to arm myself with money (student translation: overdraft), a shopping basket and a keen eye for the end of summer sales! Before diving in headfirst however, I did a little research, finding that the climate will be approximately 28oC-33oC around the clock and very humid. From what I gather, the general rule of thumb on appropriate clothing is not to dress too sexily i.e. low necklines in the daytime and to cover up when in more rural areas – though give me a heads up for any tips or if I’m wrong!
So now, I’ve armed myself with plenty of mosquito repellent, lightweight cotton and linen clothing, sandals and all the bare necessities. The plan at the moment is to pack light and buy anything I don’t have. Will let you know about the clothing situation as I’m hoping to blog throughout the trip, and I hope you’ll have the staying power to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with me. Only 2 weeks to go now and I can’t wait!
The Bake Sale – Tuesday 19th June
If we’d had music, this would’ve been the theme tune to our day:
Just had to put this image in :)
In the words of Alan Sugar “Smell what sells!” and for our particular bake sale, even at 10am in the morning, the delicious aroma of brownies turned out to be the most successful, resulting in making extra batches of chocolate fudge brownies in a house on campus.
Feeling pretty confident, and happy the weather was holding up we kept a sub-team (definitely been watching the Apprentice too much) of 2 people who would walk around uni, through their departments etc. selling cakes while others stayed and manned the stall. Perhaps not too surprisingly, two people walking around holding a dragon, a bucket, and a box of cakes drew lots of attention, helping us sell, sell, sell!
There was also a tombola stand next to us run by two other girls going on trips to India and China respectively, from which Gemma’s boyfriend won quite a bit including bubbles which he donated to our cause:
Dragon Ladies, attracting attention one bubble at a time!
It turned into a really successful day, making £160 even after we had deducted the money for the ingredients, though even if it hadn’t I think that the bake sale would have been well worth it just for getting to know everyone a bit better.
A summary of our day in 1 picture
Continuing on the fundraising theme, and the next idea was a cake stall. And so, a marquee was booked in the University Square for Tuesday19th June, 10am-5pm, but first came the baking…
Baking the Cakes
As we found out, in the kitchen that Chloe kindly lent us on the Monday night before the bake sale, making cakes is much easier when you know how! So, either clueless or out of practice we set about playing a game of how-many-students-does-it-take-to-cook-ready-made-cake-mix while waiting for the rest of our ingredients to arrive with our main chef, Gemma. It took 6 of us (which works out as 1 person per cupcake) haha, who said too many cooks spoil the broth?
It was a pretty eventful day, full of so many laughs I can’t remember what we were laughing about half the time and we tackled the cakes in pairs. It proved to be a great way of getting to know each other, for example finding out that:
- Jazz has some crazy laughs
- Sareena can’t read scales
- Ghost chilli powder is too hot to handle
- Chocolate and icing can give a cake the face-lift it needs
- And turning off the oven too soon made some cakes look more like yorkshire puddings :P see if you can guess which:
Who said too many cooks spoil the broth? Top right: half the team, bottom right: the BLOB
So after much hard work and hilarity, we ended up with over 170 cakes to sell, with any luck, the next day!
Wow, it’s already time for my first post with lots to update on progress towards the trip to China. (To check out why I’ve started blogging, see the About page.)
Getting on the China Trip
Finding out about the trip wasn’t difficult after I realised with a jolt that my 2nd year at university was flying by and I’d only have one more year as a carefree student before (hopefully) being tied down by a job. Then it was a process of going through many forms, fun group ‘interviews’ – multiple activities and challenges that you might face in your destination country – and individual interviews. It was all very casual and hey ho, I got on the trip – Brilliant!
Getting to know people
One of the best things that I was told about the trip was that the Student Union would rather take a smaller group of people who’d get on really well and make the most of the trip, than put bums in seats on the plane. So, having gotten on the trip, I wanted to know who I’d be going with and start meeting everyone. Naturally, being the techy generation that we are, a facebook group was the first port of call and so it began… laughs, mistakes, and many many cakes, all stories for another time I think!