We met our new tour guide Celia at the Shanghai airport and took our bus to the Bund area of Shanghai, passing many modern and artistically shaped sky scrapers.
Lunch was at a restaurant near the People’s Hero’s Monument. All our lunches and suppers are in restaurants with large lazy Susans in the middle of the table. They really do make a lot of sense when eating a family style meal with a large group.
The weather was cool but clear. We had free time to walk around the Bund. It was very clean. One side of the river is from the British period and the other side is dominated by modern skyscrapers. They say it’s where yesterday meets tomorrow.
We stopped to take many pictures, especially of the bull statue which was like the Wall Street bull in NYC. At one point a whole group of locals were taking pictures of us while we were taking pictures of them. I find the Chinese people very friendly.
From the Bund we headed to the city of Suzhou. I fell asleep on our two hour bus trip to Suzhou which is known as the Venice of the East. It is a lot more earthy than Venice, Italy with laundry, raw meat and mops hanging off many of the buildings.
Everyone on our tour did the optional boat cruise along the canal. The water looked suspiciously polluted. Two young boys waved enthusiastically from the side of the canal and joyfully ran alongside the boat until they ran out of walkway.
Celia sang a song from the local area. Her voice was very clear and sweet.
After the cruise Celia took us for a walk through the neighbourhood and market. While looking at a large selection of egg types offered at one shop, I suddenly heard Vince loudly blurt out a bad word.
In an attempt to get the perfect shot, he had reached over John’s shoulder with his phone. Not realizing Vince was there, John stepped back causing him to drop his cell phone which fell directly through a narrow opening in a concrete sewer grate.
Word of the drop travelled quickly through the group and everyone watched the lifting of the grate lid and with horrified fascination peered deeply into the hole. The shopkeeper helpfully offered the use of a large ladle and a pair of giant tongs. Hopefully not the same ones used to scoop up produce.
Through ominous brown liquid, Vince and Cody, who was also on our tour, fished around for the elusive phone, taking extra care to avoid the UFOs (unidentified floating objects). They finally captured the phone and inserted it into a bag of rice which fortunately was found in abundance in the market. Vince carried his treasure back to the hotel where he rinsed it off, tossed the case, wiped it down with disinfectant wipes and placed it back into the bag of rice. Note to self: avoid risotto served at Vince and Emily’s.
After our tour we checked into the Pan Pacific Suzhou hotel. Another wonderful hotel built around a lovely garden. The layout was a little confusing but the beautiful surroundings more than made up for it. (I did get lost trying to find my room once or twice). The rooms were spacious and well equipped.
Five of us decided to try the restaurant across the street. We had some really delicious lamb skewers amongst other foods.
The restaurant had many separate rooms for dining. We were the only group in our diningroom. As we were finishing up, a man from one of the other rooms walked through ours, loudly horking once, twice, three times before spitting out what I could only imagine as a humongous goober into a jar.
Let me explain something. North Americans get grossed out with the horking and spitting out of goobers which is culturally acceptable in China. Apparently blowing nostrils directly onto the street is also acceptable in China. (Fortunately I haven’t witnessed the later). Ironically, I’ve been informed that the Chinese are equally disgusted when we blow our nose into a tissue and then carry it around. If anyone can further enlighten me on this topic, please leave a comment.
Back at the hotel, I contemplated the complexities of this issue as I dozed off to sleep.