Friday, January 11, 2013

June 25; Suzhou to Wuxi

Day 141
Things I'm gonna miss: hotel breakfasts.
Day 3 of the tour has us lounging around the Silk Mill for more than an hour when we could have finished in 15 minutes. Kristie and I wander off joining other tour group with a better guide who seems to be more friendly. She encourages the tourists feel the silk, which is fun at first. You can only do so much in the store... We find ourselves in a larger shopping area where we try on traditional Chinese dresses called qipao. I really want one cause I have outgrown all of mine but I hold off. Maybe in Beijing
Lunch in a restaurant that bottled reptiles. We don't not eat any though.
In the next city, Wuxin, we visit Ling Shan. It's my favourite place we visited thus far.  The statue of the Buddha is the biggest one in the world and it measures over 40 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty in new York. 
en route
Grand Buddha at Ling Shan
There are 217 steps from the bottom to the base of the statue. Higher off the ground, closer to the the heavens I guess... Inside the  base holds a mini museum. From what I understand, there are 5 main Buddhas in China. This Buddha belongs to the East of China. The Longmen Grottoes, which we had the pleasure of visiting before, belongs to Central China.
Longmen grottoes display
After going through all the displays, we finally find the elevator that lets us get to the foot of the statue.
literally, the foot of the statue
now to climb back down.
In the area surrounding the statue, there are apartments for the monks.
baby elephant statue

3 bridges that are supposed to symbolize something.. 
replica of the Big Buddha's hand
we take this cart towards our next area of the grounds.
The Ling Shan Brahma Palace is absolutely astonishing (in my humble opinion). The architecture, marble, wall carvings, lighting, statues... it's all very pretty. I just kind wish it was less crowded.
we had to wear slippers for the palace
year of the ram
The fountain show ended off the trip at the Buddha Palace. The water moves in time with the music. I think it's suppose to tell the (re)birth of Buddha.

After dinner, we head straight to the hotel. Early night means one thing-- pool party! After getting the swim gear ready, we are hit with a few obstacles:
1) the directory said the pool was on the first floor. It ended up being on the third.
2) you can't leave your stuff by the pool side so we have to go back to the second floor to get lockers.
3) after getting the locker and getting changed, the attendant tells us we can't enter the pool unless we have swim caps. Swim caps ranged for about 50-120 ¥. EFF no.
What did we end up doing? Hang out in the wifi equipped lobby and then bollywood time!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

June 24; Nanjing to Suzhou

Day 140
I start off my day with another wonderful breakfast. This breakfast was almost not wonderful as I almost had no ketchup to accompany my potatoes and eggs. I searched high and low and then finally asked the waitress to bring me some.
another hearty breakfast
Day 2 of the tour starts off with a visit to a Jade Museum. We spent so much unnecessary time there. One downside of a tour: doing things you wouldn't do otherwise...
After that they took us to a bridge that looked like this:
so overwhelmed.
underwhelming amusement park
What's so spectacular about it? I don't know. So underwhelming. After 5 minutes on the rooftop thing we spent about 30 minutes looking at overpriced things
hey mao
Lunch time. Food has been alright, but breakfast seems to be the best meal of the day. On the brighter side, lunch and dinner always come with pop and beer.
A two hour ride later, we reach our next city, Suzhou. We linger in the Lingering Garden. As the Chinese guide goes on, most of the youngsters and nonchinese speakers (yes we weren't the only nonchinese speakers on the tour) wander and have a photoshoot.
Photo Cred: TanG
Photo Cred: Cat
Photo Cred: Tanjin
 There are a whole bunch of signs around that garden stating the rules of good behaviour. I find them to be ridiculously hilarious. 

After 3 hours of lingering, we prepare ourselves for a boat cruise down the Huangpu River.
through the gates is the dock
guide talks in foreign.
because we don't understand Chinese... we sit outside even when we were not supposed to. We got a better view outside though
best view on the cruise: Carrefour
her voice was not appealing to me.  There was a little kid who put tissue paper in his ears. LOL
We got souvenir playing cards at the end which will come in handy in the near future. The overall cruise was meh. I give it 2/5...
Anyways, the restaurant is conveniently located in bus parking lot. 
squirrel fish is the red thing on the left. It was actually quite yummy.
The next stop: shopping in Guanqian Street -- jeez another shopping area!

The goal for tonight is to find a place to get Tanjin's nose pierced and maybe get my thirds and Kristie get her seconds pierced. We narrow down the possible places that do piercings by the "twirly twirlies" but unfortunately, we do not find a place that does piercings. We do get exceptional service at one store by many moshisoyos though.
After checking at the hotel, Tanjin and I decide to explore the Howard Johnson we were staying at.
Sharing with Siggy and Tanjin tonight
We see Cat skyping in the lobby
complimentary lemonade and ice tea
Unfortunately, there were no swimming pools at this place... I settle for a nice bath in the bathtub though. mmm bathtub =)
fancy evening with red wine pocky
I look forward to reuniting with my bathroom in Canada.