January 19th

We’re home safe!!

It’s never easy to travel in a group as large as ours, and after an uncomfortably long 38-hour Saturday, Schmucker Hall was a welcome sight.

We did the math over one of our layovers, and in case you were wondering, with just flights (not counting busses), we traveled about 21,000 miles!! I think we’d all like a break from airports now.

Just a final thank you for reading, and a few links you may be interested in:

Our Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/113489266@N06/sets

Gettysburg College’s Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gettysburgcollege/sets/

Follow the Sunderman Conservatory on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sundermanconservatory

In case you’re interested in donating money so that these tours can cost our students less in the future: http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/conservatory/alumni/gift/

We hope to see you at our concerts this semester and in the future!

January 17th

The end of tour is such a bittersweet feeling. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we managed to do and see everything we did on our whirlwind tour of China and Singapore, and it’s weird to think that, in about 48 hours, we’ll be starting classes back in Gettysburg. But as far as last days go, this one was great.

It’s the rainy season here in Singapore, but we experienced a beautifully clear day as we headed over to the nearby resort area of Sentosa Island. We took a cable car ride from mainland Singapore to the island, where we experienced amazing views of the island and surrounding waters.

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Our first stop at Sentosa Island was a museum with displays and figures demonstrating the history and rich cultural heritage of Singapore’s people. We next took a ride up a glass tower to see 360-degree views of Singapore as well as nearby Indonesia and Malaysia.

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Many students took a luge ride down the mountain and a ski lift back up before we headed to the island’s aquarium.

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After the aquarium, we had lunch on our own and the opportunity to relax for a few hours on the beach. Sitting on a beach, feet in the water, on the 17th of January was the greatest feeling, and we were quite reluctant to leave the beach behind.

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What better way to end our tour than with one more concert? Once again, the National University of Singapore welcomed us into their gorgeous campus. We played through our program one last time, with an extra surprise at the end. We played a transcription of the famous and popular Stand Up for Singapore as an encore. This is one of the many national songs of Singapore (they get a new one every year!) and was definitely a hit with the audience. It was a great end to what has been a great tour.

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Tomorrow is our earliest morning yet- we leave for the airport at 2:30 AM. The group is split into four flights with layovers in quite a few different cities- Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chicago, or Denver. We’ll all be back on campus sometime between 10 PM Saturday or 3 AM Sunday, just in time for classes to start on Monday!

There have been so many wonderful and valuable experiences that we have had in the last two weeks, and we’re so glad you could follow along vicariously! While we have been posting photos on our own flickr account, our traveling photographer has been doing the same with Gettysburg College’s flickr account. The photos are phenomenal, and you should check them out! Here’s the link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gettysburgcollege/sets/
Also check out our story on the Gettysburg College homepage: http://www.gettysburg.edu/news_events/press_release_detail.dot?id=eaae3253-b37a-4b87-bfe7-2316f7dc8867

Finally, we’d like you to meet the bloggers!

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Jane Best and David Dalton have been the authors of all of the posts during this tour.
Jane is a junior Music Education major from West Chester, PA, and plays euphonium.
David is a junior Music major from Hatfield, PA, and plays trombone.
We’d like to thank all of those who contributed pictures over the course of this tour, as we received many SD cards from individual students who wanted their pictures shared. Most of our pictures came from Dr. McCutcheon, and we’re grateful for his talent in photography!
If you have any questions or comments that you’d like us to address directly, feel free to email us at bestja01@gettysburg.edu and/or daltda01@gettysburg.edu respectively. We’d be happy to hear from you!

For all of our photos from today, check out our flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/113489266@N06/sets/72157639869772124/

See you later Asia, it’s time to go home!

January 16th

Hello from paradise!

Singapore is a beautiful, beautiful nation, as articulated by many students today on our first full day in the city-state. Everywhere we went seemed to bring on more “Oos” and “Ahs” then the last place, and if course, nothing beats warm weather in January.

First, we hopped on a bus and took a driving tour around the city’s different districts to orient ourselves to where we’ll be. After this we opted for a more interesting tour medium; we stopped for a boat tour down the Singapore River. We got to see all sorts of shops that lined the river, and we even got a glimpse of the famous Merlion – part lion, part fish.

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Following the tour, we got back on the bus and drove around to Merlion Park. We got a chance to hop out and take pictures of the awesome view and the iconic statue:

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Next, we were given a bit of free time to wander in Chinatown to check out the souvenir shops – there were many awesome food vendors and the smells were abundant! Following this, we traveled to a nearby mall and were given almost 3 hours of free time to spend however we wished. Lunch was on our own in this area, giving us a great chance to try the local cuisine! In this free time, many students found their way to the basketball court out back where they joined Singaporean kids in a small game. With a large audience of Gettysburgians cheering them on, the teams put up a good match, and fun was had by all. Check out the action:

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We had a bit of down time at the hotel to get ready, then we ventured to the National University of Singapore for the evening’s activity. We participated in a marvelous exchange between our group and NUS’s wind symphony. After a great welcome, we ate at an impromptu reception, then split off into sectionals. The combined Gettysburg and Singapore sections did a wide variety of activities, and great bonding could be found all over their marvelous building.

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We then got back together and played through three pieces together! It was certainly a wonderful and powerful moment for both communities, and we made some strong bonds!

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And just when it seemed about time to call it a night, we head off to something we could only experience long after dark: The Night Safari. This featured an open air tram car on a 45-minute circuit though several settings where live animals were living. We saw so many animals, all ranging from cute to majestic. Some were pretty hard to take a picture of, however, because it was quite dark and flash photography was strictly prohibited.

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Tomorrow, our last full day in Singapore and on tour, will begin with free time at Sentosa Island! It’s sort of a combination of a beach, a resort, a waterpark, and an adventure park. Stay tuned for this final day!

For all of our photos from today (there’s a lot to make up for yesterday’s lack of pictures, I promise!), check out our flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/113489266@N06/sets/72157639833123326/

January 15th

Today was a travel day, and boy, did we travel!

Though we stayed in the same time zone, we made our way far south! It was a cumulative 6 hours of flying with as much as a 4-hour layover; we spent all day either on a plane or in an airport.

It certainly was worth it – we stepped out of the airport into mid-80-degree weather and humidity that was a welcomed contrast to China’s very dry air.

Though we’re sad to see China go, Singapore will be quite the experience to explore, and we’re all really excited for it! As an added bonus, the national language is English! Hooray for being able to converse!

Because we were traveling all day, there wasn’t much opportunity for picture taking, but I did manage to snap this picture of the sky in Gettysburg colors as the sun set on our plane.

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We start tomorrow bright and early with a bus tour of the country! That’s a weird sentence to think about, but when the entire country is one city, it makes sense!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!

P.S. Did you see the story on Gettysburg’s homepage?!

January 14th

It’s hard to believe that today was our last full day in China. It ended on a great note, with a day trip to Suzhou, about 2 hours from Shanghai. Suzhou is an old city known for its beautiful canals and gardens. We started the trip with a visit to a beautiful garden and a calligraphy lesson inside one of the garden’s pavilions. After the lesson, we could wander through the garden or figure out how to write our own names in Chinese.

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We took a short boat ride to leave the garden, and we found an army of 26 rickshaws waiting to take us on a crazy ride to lunch. It was so much fun! Everybody was having a great time as we dodged through intersections and down alleyways in the paddy-wagons.

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After lunch, we took a 45-minute boat ride down the Grand Canal. This canal stretches for hundreds of miles and flows right down the center of Suzhou. It was beautiful, and it’s easy to see why people call this city “the Venice of China.”

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Our next stop was the Silk Embroidery Institute. I don’t think any of us knew what to expect here, but we were introduced to a fascinating and beautiful (and expensive) art form. The women who make these embroideries can spend over a year stitching just one piece!

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After our last dinner in China, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our long travel day tomorrow. Thank you for following our adventures on the other side of the world; we hope you continue to read as our trip moves a little closer to the equator. It has been an amazing experience here in China, but I think we’re all itching to get to the tropical weather in Singapore. Tomorrow’s weather in Singapore is sunny with a high of 84 degrees – sounds good to me!

We didn’t know this before we left on tour, but, like many other websites, WordPress is blocked here in China. We’ve been able to update this blog through an iPad app, but nobody on this trip, including the blog writers, can actually see how it looks on the website. We’d like to thank the members of the wind symphony for trusting us to share the group’s pictures and stories, and we’ll soon be able to actually access the blog (and Facebook too!) when we arrive in Singapore.

To see the rest of today’s pictures, check out our Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/113489266@N06/sets/72157639761597535/

January 13th

Today started with a truly awesome sight. It was a clear day in Shanghai, and we took a trip to the famous Bund! We were able to take pictures of the iconic Shanghai skyline.

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After a chilly morning on the riverfront, we ventured to the “Old Town” in Shanghai – also known as Shanghai’s own Chinatown. One of the great things about this trip is its timing; we are visiting just before Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year celebration. Although we have to go home for classes before the new year, we get to see all of the decorations and other preparations! It was so neat to see the Old Town all dressed up in lanterns and bright colors.

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In the Old Town, we took a tour of Yuyuan Garden, a beautifully preserved area with picturesque scenes around every corner. The garden featured many dragons, bridges, fish, stones, and traditional architecture. My favorite fun fact about the garden was that many of the pathways featured small set stones that were supposed to provide a foot massage for those who walked on it barefoot. It was said that one should walk on the paths barefoot for at least 20 minutes a day.

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We also had plenty of free time to roam the Old Town for its many great shopping opportunities.

Following lunch and a brief return to the hotel, we set out for Shanghai Maritime University! Today, we had a concert and another opportunity to exchange our culture with that of the students that attend this Chinese university. We played for them, and they played for us! After the concert, we got a chance to meet the musicians from the other group, and we mingled for a while.

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Following the concert, we headed to a reception where many of the audience members were in attendance. Besides our group, there were Gettysburg Alumni, Current Students, current parents, and even prospective students! It was a classy night, and we turned the event into dinner!

Tomorrow is our day trip to Suzhou, the so-called “Venice of China” – stay tuned!

For more photos from today, check out our flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/113489266@N06/sets/72157639731595104

January 12th

Day two of our Shanghai experience started off with a trip to one of the city’s most famous Buddhist temples. We got to tour most of the temple and learn a bit about Chinese Buddhism both now and in past generations.

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An unexpected part of our tourist experience is that, while we are taking pictures of these famous sites, other people are often taking pictures of us. These destinations attract tourists from all over, and some of these tourists may come from more rural parts of China. America is such a diverse society, but China is very homogenous. Some of these people rarely see a foreigner outside of a television, and they might take pictures of us as well as the sites we’re seeing. It’s an interesting experience.

Our next stop was a silk factory. China is famous for its silk and the Shanghai area produces 90% of the country’s silk. Our guided tour showed us the complex process of making silk, and of course that led to a chance to buy some pure Chinese silk products afterwards.

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After a classy lunch in the high-rise financial district, we headed to the Shanghai Museum. Often lauded as the finest museum in China, it has exhibits featuring centuries of trademark Chinese art- painting, sculpture, calligraphy, ceramics, and more. We had two hours to explore the museum before heading to Nanjing Road.

A popular shopping destination, Nanjing Road has blocks of department stores, restaurants, and other retail opportunities for tourists to enjoy. It seems like a very long and narrow Times Square, and is just as crowded. We got to shop along the road for a while, and many of us managed to find one of the four Starbucks in the mile-long block. To continue the sensation of being in New York City, we had dinner at either Subway or McDonalds. After a week in China, it was a nice change of pace.

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The night ended with a mind-boggling acrobatics performance. These acrobats start training at 4 or 5 years old, and go to school for 10 or more years to learn these skills. They demonstrated amazing feats on unicycles, springboards, stilts, tightropes, and more. A favorite with the band was a girl who played Jingle Bells on the clarinet while balancing 25 glasses of water on her nose. It was a stressful show to watch, but amazing. Tomorrow we explore more of Shanghai in the morning and have our third concert performance in the afternoon!

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Check out more photos from the day at http://www.flickr.com/photos/113489266@N06/sets/72157639690645713/