Going to Hangzhou was not in our original invite but I was so excited to hear that they changed our 4-day visit and extended it with visiting Hangzhou and also Shanghai. So here is what we got up to in Hangzhou and on our day trip to Shanghai.
Our flight left Beijing in the morning and when we got to the airport in Hangzhou, Max and Francine were waiting for us to welcome us. The taxi took us to our hotel Minghao International Hotel and I was given an upgrade because of my bad knee, I had a 1 bedroom suite all to myself in a 5-star hotel. The view was amazing and I definitely made use of the beautiful bath in the bathroom. We only had a few minutes to drop our bags and get changed quickly then we went to explore the shopping centre next to the hotel. We had some time to freshen up, do our makeup, hair to get ready for our dinner with the CEO of Landi after our shopping centre wandering. We had dinner with CEO Shawn Li and his family (2 sons and his wife) at the Kua Hu Lou restaurant right by the West Lake. We had a private room just for ourselves and the food was incredible. Chinese people were celebrating the Mid Autumn festival throughout China so we we got to try some delicious moon-cakes as well.
A taxi picked us up to take us to Landi HQ. First, we toured the building and were introduced to various sections of the company. We had a go at playing table tennis, then finally arrived at the floor of Landi. We were introduced to a few people we would have already talked to online (eg: Nina, our recruiters and operators). After a few minutes we were asked to sit down and we were surrounded by various groups of Landi staff at different times asking us questions and interviewing us about who we are and our thoughts and feedback on the platforms we work for, on training, on materials, strengths, suggestions etc… They seemed to be very organised and knew what questions to ask. As I have been part of the Facebook group for a year, I shared other teacher’s feedback that I have seen as well.
As the feedback session took longer than expected we didn’t get to have lunch with our operators and recruiters but only with Max and Francine. The photo shoot started straight after lunch. We learnt how to pull angry, sad, happy and funny faces and were also interviewed on video. We were given example scripts before the shoot. Unfortunately, Jane (she was in charge of the shoot) deleted the photos accidentally so had to retake them from scratch. I was pretty tired by that point and saw that my T-shirt collar was all over the place, I can only hope that they managed to recover some of the photos from the previous shoot or that they are able to do miracles with editing.
I spent some time with my operator Jessica in the afternoon, she was really lovely and I enjoyed getting to know her. I sat next to her desk to see what it was like being in her shoes. The operators are extremely hard working and they have so much to deal with I learnt. She has been my operator for 6 months and it was awesome meeting her face to face.
After the shoot, we met Adrian (the head of the operators) who was also really friendly and he took us around to meet others who wanted to have photos with us. This is when we heard that Elias (one of the teachers) was a celebrity EXP teacher partly because of playing the ukulele in his classes.
Today was the day that I have been looking forward to for a long time. I was going to meet Michael, one of my favourite students. A week before I posted on Facebook saying that I wanted to meet him not knowing that he lived in Hangzhou and I was going to travel to Hangzhou. I will never forget how he was shouting my name and running towards me from the other end of the street, lucky that it wasn’t a road but a pedestrian area. He gave me a very big hug and yes I did tear up a little. We went into Starbucks and chatted a little, he ordered some hot chocolate for himself and drank it with chopsticks. I wasn’t disappointed by Michael. He was even funnier in real life than online.
He always brings a zombie along to the online classes and he did bring along his favourite zombie in real life as well. I drew a zombie for him as I couldn’t find a zombie toy in the shopping centre the day before. We walked around the West Lake for a bit and he bought an ice cream for me and he chose it. Unfortunately, after a short time, they had to leave as Michael had a school activity and he was taken out of school just to meet me anyway.
After Michael and his mum left, we walked around the West Lake a little more but as it was nearly lunchtime, we decided to have lunch before I would go back to the hotel and the others would carry on walking to a viewpoint. The lunch was delicious as usual, by now I have figured out that Chinese food in China is so different from the Chinese food that we eat in the Western countries. I can’t even compare how much better real Chinese food is and I wish there were more authentic Chinese restaurants around.
We were invited by a Landi staff member to a quiz evening in a pub. It was all very last minute but we figured out where to go even though she was waiting for us at the wrong hotel and she did turn up after a while. She was coming with us the next day to Shanghai.
Off we go to Shanghai. We got to a taxi to the train station where Max and Flora bought our train tickets. We wouldn’t have been able to buy the tickets or know what to do anyway as everything was in Chinese even the platform numbers/names. The train was pretty fast (it was a bullet train) but it wasn’t as fast as I imagined it to be as I guess it did stop a few times between Hangzhou and Shanghai.
Another amazing hotel stay, we stayed in Longmont Shanghai, the view was incredible from our rooms, we could see most of Shanghai. After a short rest, we went into the centre of Shanghai, what an incredible experience with huge skyscrapers, everything was modern, we then made our way to the Bund to see the nighttime view after another lovely hot pot dinner, yummy. Flora and Max were really lovely and caring that they ordered me a taxi so that I wouldn’t have to walk with my bad knee on the way back to the hotel.
I decided to stay in the hotel in the morning so that I wouldn’t hold everyone up with my bad knee but I am glad I did as the hotel had the best swimming pool yet and it was funny to see one of the rules being no spitting (yes by this point I have seen quite a few people spitting in 5 star hotels into the drains). Before checking out, I went up to the highest floor and took some beautiful photos of Shanghai. After the others came back, we heard that they found some really cheap bargains not too far so we managed to convince Max and Flora to go back with us so that we could buy some souvenirs and we even had time to walk around Yuyuan garden before calling a taxi to take us to catch our train back to Hangzhou. We bought some KFC at the station, it was very expensive and they didn’t sell chips.
After arriving back to Hangzhou, we picked up our luggage from Minghao International Hotel and were taken to Hangzhou Marriott Hotel, another amazing 5-star hotel. This is where the Landi conference was going to be held the next day. My next room didn’t disappoint with another amazing view over the river. We were told that there was going to be a light show in the evening so we were waiting in our room to see it but realised that the hotel was actually part of the show. It sounded like the others wanted to see it but I ended up going on my own, I asked the hotel staff where I could see it so they directed me to a shopping mall not too far. I probably shouldn’t have left on my own and did get lost on the way back so my painful knee wasn’t very happy.
The 29th September was another exciting day to look forward to. We were part of the Landi peer conference where we were asked to introduce ourselves and I also had some photos taken with the CEO, a professor from Harvard, a Landi student and a mum as part of introducing a new initiative. At the end of the conference we got to meet many Landi students, unfortunately, they were not our students but they were adorable nonetheless. After the conference, we had some more photos taken with the professor from Harvard. We all had dinner together and I got to know a few more staff members a bit more, one of them was Olivia who I have been in touch with about my new proofreading position since.
Time to go home after a memorable trip. I wasn’t feeling well so was very happy to arrive back in the UK safe and sound in the evening.
Hangzhou was my favourite city out of the three cities I visited. I fell in love with the people and the place. The Landi staff members went out of their way to make sure that we were happy and looked after us every second. We were treated like celebrities. I got to appreciate my job a lot more and I am more proud to be working for Landi and I still can’t believe that I had an incredible opportunity like this and I can’t wait to see what may come out of it.
Why I Loved Hangzhou:
- Hangzhou is beautifully surrounded by mountains, lakes and amazing views. I love nature and beautiful views.
- Hangzhou doesn’t seem to be as crowded as Shanghai or Beijing.
- People are super friendly and welcoming and make you feel special.
- The 5 star hotels we stayed in were amazing with beautiful views, comfy beds and great facilities.
- I loved meeting Landi staff members and my student, Michael.
- The light show was the best light show I have ever seen.
Thank you, Landi, for making me feel special. You are amazing.