China Tour 2019

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May 11th 2019
Published: July 26th 2019
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Day 8 – May 11th – Suzhou, Silk Factory, Lingering Gardens, Grand Canal, - to Hangzhou

Early start again in Suzhou, founded in 514BC – lots to do – and the first stop is at the Silk Factory and Showroom which means there are lots of things you just have to buy. Started with a presentation from a lady who could earn zillions in the West as a sales agent. She had the patter, the body language, the audience rapport to sell ice to Eskimos, with a million reasons why we should exclusively buy silk sheets, pillows+cases, doonas, knickers, ties, purely because of their health benefits. Unfortunately for her, the travel weary Aussies were not convinced so I suspect she didn’t earn her commission that day. But maybe the next 50 or more tourist buses that morning would have made amends.

It is interesting that these venues are obviously set up for the tourist trade –there are thousands (make that millions) more Chinese (Asian?) tourists than Westerners. Where do they get the money?

So, back on the bus to a UNESCO World heritage site – The Lingering Gardens. Beautiful location and experience – calm and relaxing. Not sure of the history – which is lengthy and worth Googling. Of course you can’t Google anything in China.

Next, quite an eye opening experience travelling the Grand Canal of Suzhou. (“Optional Tour” @ $40 each ). We had no idea that there were canals anywhere in China but this is the oldest and longest canal in the world. It flows from northern Beijing to southern Hangzhou with thousands of trade ferries using the canal for over 2,500 years. The 1,794-kilometer-long water conservancy project, is regarded as one of the two greatest ancient projects in China (together with the Great Wall). Our guide said the whole length was man-made. Guess that’s true. We saw hundreds of houses barely hanging on to their foundations with the owners doing their washing in the canal or fishing for meals – in 12 months time they will all be gone, making way for new apartments with ‘water frontage’.

Now back on the bus for a three-hour drive to our next stop in Hangzou. Again, a stunning 5 star hotel – Hangzhou Yuandong Hotel (Standard).

Early evening arrival, so while everybody searched for a ‘normal’ place to eat, we wander off as our tour leader suggests, do a left and a right and find a magic street with stacks of small local restaurants. We choose one at random, point to some pictures, use the translator, and enjoy the best meal yet – a sizzling wok of sauteed potatoes and veges, with a side of steamed rice. Unbelievable ($10 including a large beer – they don’t do small beers or any type of wine). While we are enjoying our meal, some of the tour party pass by, ask what we are eating, ask the staff for ‘some of what they are having’. Just wish we could find the recipe.

Rhon was worried about when she was going to wash her hair – we had passed a tiny, tiny, hairdresser, so went back, asked the price, and Rhon had her hair done - $6.

Back to the hotel after a magic night.

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