Kayleigh Hemingway and 8 others went on the travel bursary trip to China at the beginning of January. Now Kayleigh is back and told Pluto how it went…
So after spending ten days in Guangzhou, China as part of the UCLan travel bursary, 24 hours travelling back to the UK and almost a week spending every single day doing nothing except trying to get back onto the right time zone, I think it’s safe to say that I’m finally back to my routine!
The trip to China was absolutely incredible and I experienced far more than I ever imagined I would – from tasting traditional Chinese foods (with chopsticks!), photographing Buddhist monks (who were more interested in asking for photos with us), watching the most beautiful sunset from the top of the Canton tower. Experiencing the local Chinese markets, sitting in a suite at the five star Shangri La hotel with three consul generals in China on the set of Chinese TV show, China Chats, to being interviewed on the radio!
It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I think it’s safe to say that it was slightly more exciting than my average week of lectures, gym classes and food shopping.
Our trip started off by flying out to Doha in Qatar from Manchester Airport. We flew two seven and a half hour flights before we landed in Guangzhou. We were greeted by some of the local Chinese students who were honestly some of the kindest, most selfless people I have ever met. They did nothing the entire trip but help us. They took us everywhere we wanted to go and translated for us every single day when we needed help. They are coming to UCLan in September so the UCLan team will be sure to return the favour and take them to as many places as possible!
Our first few days were filled with finding our feet and getting most of the work done. We spent the days travelling around the city to find the locations of each photograph. The photography students would snap the new photos while the rest of the team worked to create content for the documentary about the trip.
My favourite photograph is a photo we took at a Buddhist temple with some of the monks. We had to convince them to pose for us – which would have been impossible without the help of the Chinese students. One particular monk asked for a photo with us, which was bizarre as we wanted to get photos of them!
Our evenings were spent with the Chinese students – we would usually get dinner with them and go onto do something fun – we went Ice Skating in a shopping centre that was 8 stories high, we did KTV which is Karaoke in your own private room with food, drinks and huge TV screen, we went on a boat cruise along the Pearl River, and went to the top of the Canton tower and watched the sunset.
One of the best days of the trip, for me was spending the day on set of the Chinese TV show China Chats. We were working closely throughout the trip with journalist Matt Horn who works both at UCLan and International College in Guangzhou. On this particular day, all the girls had the day off and we were offered an opportunity to shadow Matt on his day of filming. We didn’t really know what to make of it as we hadn’t been told much about the show – so we were so excited when we pulled up to the five star Shangri La hotel, whisked off to the 33rd floor and taken to a beautiful private suite!
This particular episode featured three of only twelve female consul generals in China who were on the show to talk about the representation of women in power (which is the topic of my dissertation) – so we had the opportunity to meet the women and I even got their emails (talk about research!)
It was really a bizarre moment for me. I mean I was sat in a private suite of a five star hotel eating dragon fruit discussing the representation of women in power with three women in power – this doesn’t happen every day!
The entire trip was so incredible and the Chinese students deserve so much credit in helping us achieve some of our goals! We wouldn’t have been able to convince Buddhist monks to pose for photos without them!
BY KAYLEIGH HEMINGWAY
Pluto will be covering the other travel bursaries taking place. If you are going on one and would like to write for Pluto then tweet us @UCLanPluto
Photos below taken and provided by Conor Clarke Head of Photography at Pluto