Written by Amy Leung

At around 8:15am, we left the the Grand Mercure Jinan Sunshine Hotel in Jinan (Shandong province in China) and went to visit a senior home.

When we arrived at the senior home, I didn’t know what to expect. On the outside, wooden planks formed a pathway for us to walk across the mud; however, when we went inside, my expectations immediately changed. It was like a hotel!

We were welcomed by Mr. Gong, one of the 40 staff members, who gave us a presentation and a tour of the facilities. Currently, 80 residents live at this 8000 sq. m. residence. Inside, it is much like the Mon Sheong Long Term Care Centers in Canada in that there are multi-functional rooms for activities, dining rooms/kitchens, performance halls, art studios, and a beautiful courtyard. The courtyard had a fountain, and a large Chinese word that meant “good luck” hung on the walls of the buildings. In the back, there was a vegetable garden, a farm, and colourful exercise equipment.

After our tour, we sang and danced to “The Moon Represents My Heart”, a popular Chinese song, and Clifton sang a solo, which were both well received by the audience. I was extremely delighted that three of the seniors sang songs for us in return.

What I liked most about this experience is that even though I couldn’t always understand what the seniors said to me while I greeted them with smiles and ‘ni haos’, we were all happy. For a moment, I could forget the 30 degree heat and experienced a new and different type of “warmth”- the warmth that welled inside of me from seeing the radiant smiles and excitement from the elderly residents. It touched my heart to see the seniors so happy!

After spending a few hours at the senior home, it was time to go for our early lunch before we headed for the Jinan Railway station for our 4 hr train ride to Shanghai.

We arrived at the station a few hours earlier and were able to rest a bit.

At 2:30pm, we lined up for the 12th cabin on the train. In a matter of 2 minutes, the train left the station and we started our journey to Shanghai.

After our ride to the Shanghai Hong Qiao Railway Station, we met our local tour guide, Charlie, who will escort us during our stay in Shanghai. Then, we loaded our luggage on the bus and headed for dinner.

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I expected Shanghai to be a busy city and indeed, it was. It was already 9pm when we were on our way to Zhong Xiang Hotel. People filled the streets and were walking around the many lit up buildings.

After visiting Beijing, Xi’an and the Shandong province, we’re near the end of our trip! I can’t wait to see what Shanghai has in store for us!

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