On Tuesday, it was time to learn how to control the paper actuators using electricity. The lesson started off with the instructor explaining what was an Arduino and teaching us some of the coding terms related to writing the code. It was quite helpful that we had taken coding in term 3 as although the coding language was different, we were still able to understand and code a very simple program. The next part of the lesson consisted of wiring up the entire circuit with the Arduino and relays. In the last part of the lesson, we printed the pattern we wanted onto the paper and experimented with the control mechanism to move the paper.
On Wednesday night, we had quite an interesting time as we celebrated the birthdays of the people born in May and June. We got a surprise when we walked into the room as we were greeted with 4 humongous cakes and these cakes were sponsored by the professors as well. Despite the voracious appetite and best efforts of many of the people in ALP, we had trouble trying to finish the cake and eventually we had to give away a significant portion of the cake.
On Friday, it was time for our last and final session of our CIP and this time it was a full day session. In the morning session, we were given a chance to interact and experience the type of lessons and training the students go through in order to adapt to the outside world and gain independence. We were split up into 3 groups: deserts, cooking, and crafts. The students that went to deserts got a chance to learn how to make pudding while the people in the crafts group learned how to make hair ties with a bow design. I had the pleasure of joining the cooking team were I learned how to make a traditional Chinese biscuit called 葱油饼.
Our instructor was very kind to us by preparing the dough beforehand and all we had to do was to shape the dough into the shape of a biscuit, mix in the spring onion into the dough and last but not least fry the biscuit. It was really an enriching experience for me as it was the first time in almost 5 years that I had cooked for myself. As I interacted with the instructor and students and observed their interaction with each other and myself, I saw and experienced the patience and strictness with their students. This type of education would definitely be beneficial to the students who would have to face this type of work in the outside world and help them better adapt to the world outside the school.
In the afternoon, we did an origami activity for some of the older kids in the school. We decided to teach them 2 shapes, a paper box, and a crane. It was quite surprising that the students were able to pick up the folds for the shape at a rapid rate and some of them were even faster than us. It was quite hard to believe that these students had learning disability looking at the speed that they were learning. We taught the lesson until the end of school where the students brought back their creations back home.
On Saturday, it was time for another time trip out of Hangzhou and this time the destination was Shanghai. It was quite lucky for me and my group of friends that we all had a mutual friend doing an internship in Shanghai and he had kindly volunteered to be our tour guide in Shanghai over the weekend.
The first place that he took us 2 street market where they sold all kinds of goods. They sold clothes, bags, shoes, watches and almost anything under the sun although all of them were fake goods. Although they were selling fake goods, when asking the price, they will usually quote a really high price and you had to bargain them down to at least 10% of their quoted price to get a reasonable price. It was a place that tested our wits and bargaining skills with the various shopkeepers to get the item we wanted.
In the night we decided we to go to one of the big shopping area called 南北东路. This area was filled with many shopping malls and restaurants selling all kinds of cuisine and all kinds of goods, from local brands to international luxury brands. The street was entirely covered with a mix of bright neon lights, imposing western architecture and large malls. Although we did not buy much from the shops and malls along the street, we were soaking in the metropolitan city atmosphere as we walked along the streets. For the first time in over a month, I saw so many recognizable brands that it really reminded me of Singapore and how interconnected both cities are with the rest of the world. This is quite different from Hangzhou where malls mostly sold local brands which really demonstrated how large China was, where places that are a mere 1-hour train journey from each other can have a large difference in terms of development and interconnectedness.
On Sunday, it was time for shopping and where else better than a factory outlet in Shanghai? Surprisingly, the factory outlet was located near Shanghai Disneyland and we had a small glimpse of Disneyland as we made our way to the factory outlet. The factory outlet had goods from all kinds of international brands, selling goods at a fraction of the price of the ones in Singapore, with such a good deal in front of us we just couldn’t resist. After about 2 hours of shopping and with all our spoils in hand we proceeded back to our Airbnb before heading out again for the night.
In the night, just 2 bus stops away from our Airbnb, we had reached the Central Business District of Shanghai. We were literally surrounded by skyscrapers and bright LED lights on all sides, it was really a sight to behold. If I had to compare it to Singapore’s skyline, this view was truly in a league of its own. With such a view in front of us, all of us naturally stopped for several minutes to take pictures and enjoy the view. We then preceded to dinner before another round of exploring the CBD area and going back to our Airbnb.