Zhouzhuang Watertown and Suzhou's Tiger Hill Garden

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July 23rd 2010
Published: July 23rd 2010
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Today was the first day we did some sightseeing in China. We woke up in Kun Shan and drove to Zhouzhuang. Zhouzhuang is well known for its rivers and river boats, which I really wanted to see. I got lots of pictures and we got to see a ton of the old parts of town. We took a boat ride too which was really fun. I think I stand out as American because everyone stares at me and some people stop and want to get their pictures taken with me. But I'm also the only person in China who lifts weights, so that could be it too. After we toured Zhouzhuang all morning we drove to Suzhou. The hotel in Suzhou is awesome! My room has a kitchen, bed room, and living room. And they have an outlet that fits my macbook plug so I can charge it. The balcony also has a really nice view. We saw an ancient garden in Suzhou already and we are going to go to two more tomorrow. I met a lot of Jie's dad's friends, we ate with them at breakfast and lunch. No one really speaks English except for Jie. English is now required in schools here so most young people speak it. But businessmen and other older people don't really. Which is fine with me. I'm learning a lot of Chinese. I sent out a bunch of post cards today so we'll see how long it takes for them to get to America. We're finally done travelling for the day and we're resting in the hotel now. I've been taking in everything I see and I love China so far. It's so interesting. And at night there are so many bright colored lights in the city. Purple, green, yellow, red, orange, blue, all different colors, so when I arrived in Shanghai (6am my time, 6pm China time), I saw all these beautiful lights.

Some things about China:
The drivers are CRAZY, there are many bikes and mopeds, but the drivers swerve in and out of lanes, don't look, usually don't stop, and horns are blaring constantly haha. The horns actually woke me up this morning. One of Jie's dad's friends is driving us and he's really nice. But the other drivers are just insane haha it's so different from America.
The food is great too. We had frog soup for dinner. We've had a lot of formal meals so far. Formal meals are always at a table and the food is put on a spinning circular plate in the middle and you just grab what you want and put it on your plate. There's usually a ton of food to choose from too. The waiters just keep bringing out dishes. When you sit down you always have a plate, chopsticks, a cup for tea (I've had more tea today then I did for the last two weeks) a small cup for soup, and a wet towel, for cleaning. We've had some really exotic food and some of it is really tasty. The weirdest so far is definately the frog, or pig's tongue. That one was interesting. We also bought some pig feet for me to take home, they're a specialty in Zhouzhuang. I also got a sun hat! You know, the pointy ones?
I've never been in a city as big as Shanghai before, or even Kun Shan which is smaller, but bigger than Raleigh. We decided to see Shanghai and the world fair at the end of the trip because it will be less crowded. Jie's mom really wants me to come back because she says 30 days isn't enough. She wants me to bring my family next time too.
Another thing is that none of the tap water is potable. You have to drink bottled water.
A lot more people here smoke than in America. I was always told you couldn't see a blue sky in China because of the pollution but I woke up to the brightest blue sky today. Jie said it's because the government shut off the factories around Shanghai because of the world fair and they want it to look nice for tourists :P we'll see if he's right.
My camera died today because I forgot to charge it before the trip, but it's charged now and I'll be ready tomorrow. I also meet Jie's dad tomorrow so that will be interesting. After we finish the two ancient private gardens in Suzhou tomorrow, we will drive to Nanjing, Jie's hometown. I'm trying to get on facebook but it's pretty complicated since it's banned in China. Jie is going to show me how to get around it later though.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 25



Jie hanging out the window in Sheng Jia Da Yuan
The tickle treeThe tickle tree
The tickle tree

a tickle tree in Hu Chou Garden. If you tickle it the leaves rattle :)
The Strange HouseThe Strange House
The Strange House

it's actually a mural behind me

22nd September 2010

You know, I have to share my first and yes last experience with Pig Tongue. It's called lengua in spanish. During lent season (Catholic tradition) my father made dinner for me and it's a sin to eat meat of any sort on Friday's. So I asked for fish and he made me fish tacos... so I thought... When I tasted it I knew the look on my face said it all. The texture was weird. Although I didn't like it I finished them after which my father tells me what kind of tacos they really were. I couldn't believe he let me sin like that:-O Anyways, there aren't too many foods that I won't eat but that is definitely one I had enough of. The pictures are so insightful Johnny. I absolutely am enjoying reading your stories and looking at the pictures. I'm very excited to look at the rest. I gotta lot a catchin up to do...

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