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The China Diaries - Day 12

Matt Burgan  October 21, 2010 1:06 PM

There was some mystery to start the day, with the group having to meet on level two by 9 am sharp.

The group knew it was set to participate in the ‘Amazing Race’, but in terms of activities and what it had to achieve - it was unknown to all, except the organising committee.

First of all, the Chopsticks, Pandas and Suns found out who won the karaoke - it wasn’t the Choppies unfortunately, with our group tying with the Pandas for second place! The Suns shone through (pardon the pun) on this occasion!

Sub-groups within the three main teams had been prearranged.

I was with Josh Mahoney and key supporter Henry Otto.

Our first challenge was to work out which park to visit. Once that was worked out, the groups set off via taxi and the ‘Amazing Race’ was underway.

From there, some Tai Chi was undertaken, before participants could move on.
The next stop was trying some culinary delights: scorpions, bugs of some description, and some interesting looking tofu. Participants had the choice of choosing one, with bonus points for more.

I tasted all three and the scorpions came out on top (and no they didn’t taste like chicken, although they were nice all the same!)

But, as I write in the afternoon, I’m not sure if the combination of the trio, plus Mr Pizza (it was very good) next to the hotel made for a somewhat gurgling stomach.
From the scorpions and co found in the Australian influenced Ned’s Bar - the task was to head to the shopping outlet and find a particular handbag.

Most of the teams arrived in this market needing to get the best price for a ‘designer’ brand handbag.

There were few left in the store and with supplies - including money - limited, haggling was needed.

Only a few people, including Cameron Schwab’s team, managed to get the exact bag that was required.

Photos also had to be taken along the way with the ‘Demon hand’.

And a certain train station had to be found, which would bring us back to our hotel destination in the afternoon.

Eventually, after roughly three hours out and about, all teams arrived back safe and sound. It was a good effort by all and sundry!

The itinerary had been full throughout the tour, so some free time in the afternoon was met enthusiastically.

Many of the crew headed to Mr Pizza for lunch, then some were onto the markets for further shopping, while others took it easy (or in my case spilt a full hot cup of coffee on themselves) in the afternoon.

In the evening, the travelers headed to Capital M, just south of Tian’anmen Square for its final group dinner.

Towards the end of the dinner, chief operating officer Matt Green, who had been instrumental in bringing the tour together, spoke about what the trip had meant for the club and the many people who had been pivotal to making it happen.

The key focus of building relationships among the club had been an overwhelming success.

Green also handed out several awards, including best on tour, which went to the delightful Henry and Helen Otto, a couple from Melbourne who are passionate supporters and contributors to the club.

Their warm personalities and enthusiasm for the trip made them deserving recipients.
Others nominated for best on tour included players Aaron Davey, Lynden Dunn, Jack Fitzpatrick and young Matty Goodrope.

Although the enthusiastic Goodrope, who plays a key role in the production of the club’s website, didn’t receive BOG, he gained another integral award: ‘Muppet of the Tour’.

It was all in good fun, but his innocent remark to one of the persistent Great Wall of China merchandise sellers: ‘Do you come here often?’ - tickled the fancy of several of the more worldly Melbourne staffers.

Schwab also gave a heartfelt and excellent speech to the group, while Aaron Davey and Robert Flower were also among the speakers.

And the victorious Flying Chopsticks were given Melbourne guernseys from the match against the Brisbane Lions.

It was a great night for the club.

The night finished around midnight, with most heading back to the hotel in preparation for an early departure.