Instead of departing for a tourist location
this morning, we started out by taking a bus ride to Suzhou. I
slept and watched a movie and before I knew it, we were there.
We ate lunch and met up with our temporary guide that replaced
Bill. Next, we went to the Lingering Garden. The garden was first
laid out in 1522 AD. The whole space is artfully and appropriately
handled, and arranged with exquisite petty scales. It is a typical
garden of the Ming period with elegance and exquisiteness in the
southern Yangtze Valley. The Cloud-Crowned Peak in it is a treasured
piece of Taihu rock noted in the region.
This was a neat place and I had a lot of fun there. There were
live musicians that sat in private booths and played traditional
instruments such as the guzhen. The garden itself was very pretty
and we learned about the "flirting corridor" which was
two corridors separated by a wall with windows; one corridor was
for the men and one was for the ladies. The whole point was to
be able to talk to the opposite sex while maintaining the social
hierarchy of men being powerful, women being timid.
next stop was a silk embroidery factory. We got to see how a trained
artist takes strands of silk to weave intricate designs on cloth
that look almost exactly like a painting or real picture from
far away. We also got to see a world famous weaving of a cat that
took 2 years to make and contained over 500 colors of silk, even
though it was just a white cat with blue eyes against a red background.
After that, we proceeded to the Tiger Pagoda. It started to rain
so I put on my poncho and headed out while others without rain
protection stayed behind on the bus. The mini expedition found
out that the pagoda was closed due to rain so I walked around
and meandered back to the bus.
Today was Dr. Tai's birthday and everyone surprised her by presenting
a card on the bus and singing "Happy Birthday" in Chinese.
She felt honored by this and talked about how nice it was to spend
her birthday with her family in China.
The stop following the Tiger Pagoda would have to be my pick
for "most fun filled" stop. We first arrived at another
silk factory but this time we got to see the actual process of
preparing silkworms. Later, we got time to shop around inside
the store for silk weavings, blankets, and decorations (again,
more of the same stuff we've all seen before). Finally, the tour
guide led the group into a medium sized room with a small runway
down the middle. Not one to miss out on a private fashion show,
I picked a seat on the side of the runway. As soon as the women
came out, I knew I had made a right decision. The models modeled
everything silk from outerwear (chi paos and silk tops) to evening
wear (gowns and dresses). The show lasted about ten minutes and
when it was over, everyone went to another part of the store to
look at silk clothes and then to the bus.
We checked into the China Garden Hotel after dinner and immediately
fell in love with it. It looked like a huge mansion with a main
building and two wings. The main building housed such things as
the squash room, billiards room, indoor maze, and massage parlor.
Each guest room had a mini water cooler and a standalone shower
in addition to a bathtub. After unpacking and looking around,
Jason and I took a taxi to a small shopping district to look for
CDs and DVDs. When it was time to go home, we only saw bike taxis
(a person riding a bike and pulling a covered carriage) and decided
to take one. The journey home was quite interesting because like
most of my experiences in China, this was my first time riding
in a bike taxi. The driver was nice and asked for only what we
thought was a reasonable price. I paid him and went upstairs to
pack because the next day, we would be traveling to Hanzhou.