Monday, November 19, 2007

China Odyssey, Day 5 - Shanghai and Suzhou

Day 5 Shanghai
Monday Nov 19
Train ride to Suzhou

Our Monday tour was a train ride to a suburban Shanghai town named Suzhou. The Shanghai train station is huge and crowded. Our tour guide told our group to pretend we are “sticky rice” and stick together. The train to Suzhou is very modern, smooth, and comfortable, and travels at speeds up to 125mph.

Shanghai Train Station

Sticky Rice, Please!

Bullet Train

Suzhou is literally translated "Paradise on Earth". There are many small moats and canals that connect to the Grand Canal. This canal is an ancient 1100 mile commercial waterway between Shanghai and Beijing, considered to be an engineering feat comparable to the Pyramids. Today Suzhou is a center known for rice, silk and retirees. The city was founded by Emperor Huang Di, and many wealthy men built Gardens there.

We were met at the train station by our tour guide Wendy. Our first stop was a very pleasant 25 minute canal ride with a singing boat poler. Suzhou is the southern terminus of the Grand Canal. People in Suzhou seem more friendly than Shanghai people. They all waved and smiled at us a we floated past.

Grand Canal Boatman

Our second stop was Number 1 Silk Factory. Our tour guide took us step by step from the incubation of the silk worm to the final product. First the silkworm spins a cocoon, from the inside, using a single thread of silk. The cocoon is then roasted to kill the pupae, soaked in water, and the thread is unwound from the outside. Kathy bought several items in the silk emporium.

Silkworms Munching Mulberry Leaves

Extracting Threads From the Silkworm Pod

Visitors Participate in Stretching Silk Felt

Today at the silk factory Kathy had her first experience with oriental toilets. She says that Overseas Adventure Travel should put out a training video for toilet usage, because is very complicated. Positioning and aim seem to be the key, but the question is, which way do you face, and who stole the paper?

After lunch we strolled through a local neighborhood, which was shabby by American standards. We bought some chocolate and proceeded on to another Garden. The Garden we toured was the "Couples Garden". It is unique because it was built not only for a man's enjoyment but also his wife's.

Our last stop in Suzhou was a Buddhist temple. We were not allowed to take pictures in the main temple. At the entrance there was a huge smiling Buddha gilded in gold. On each side of the main temple were 12 statues of Buddha's disciples, and as you exit there is a huge female Buddha also gilded in gold. There were people moving in a clockwise pattern and praying as they moved. Both the temple and the Garden evoked an overwhelming sense of peace and serenity.

Buddhist Temple

It was a long and very tiring day. After we returned to the hotel we walked to Pizza Hut and ordered the "American Special" which was a pepperoni and mozzarella pizza. It was delicious!

We have a free morning on Tuesday and then check out of our hotel at 11:30am.

1 comment:

iffatali said...

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
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