China 1985

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

China 1985

In 1985 I was Head of Geography at a large independent boys’ school in Sydney.  In the previous two years I had led overseas study tour for students, taking groups of students to Papua New Guinea in 1983 and to Burma in 1984.  These were fabulous experiences for everyone concerned, and as a result, I proposed organising a study tour of Chinese Language and Geography students to China for late 1985.  The tour was approved and was co-led by three teachers; one teacher of Chinese, one teacher of Geography (me) plus one other.

In this travel diary, I have not included close photos of any teachers or students to preserve privacy, nor have I mentioned any individual names for the same reason.  The travel diary is my own personal set of recollections rather than an official report, and is based on the letters I wrote home and posted to my wife each day while I was away.

As things turned out, all the boys except one who participated in the study tour were students of Mandarin Chinese language; six of them also studied Geography and one studied Geography but not Chinese Language.  Of the 15 students, 12 were in Year 10, with the balance consisting of one boy from Year 11 and two from Year 9. 

Our flight from Sydney to Hong Kong via Melbourne was smooth and uneventful on a Qantas Boeing 747-200. The approach into Hong Kong airport at 6:10pm local time was spectacular, as it was early evening, and Hong Kong was ablaze with lights.  The approach to the airport is actually between the tall buildings of Kowloon; mostly government housing estates, and for the students who had never been away from Australia before (the majority), it was quite a sight.  After some minor hiccups in finding the correct bus, we went to our hotel (the Park Lane) at Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island, via the Cross Harbour Tunnel.  The hotel overlooks the typhoon shelter where hundreds of small junks are moored.

Most of the boys (and I) did not sleep well on this first night away from home.  We were all very excited by the vibrant atmosphere of Hong Kong, and we hadn’t adjusted to the time difference, with most of us waking up at about 5:00am the next morning.

Day 1

Sydney to Hong Kong

Tuesday, 3 December 1985