I woke up at 2:45am and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get back to sleep.
At 7am we went for another huge buffet breakfast before checking out of the Gloria Grand Hotel Wuxi.
The day was dull with pouring rain which suited the geese and pair of black swans that lived in the water area in front of our hotel.
Vince made an announcement on the bus that the rice had done the trick and miraculously “poopy phone” was back in working order. Who’d have thought?
Since Wuxi is famous for its fresh water pearls, our first visit was to the pearl factory. I couldn’t resist buying a few pieces of jewellery.
We next visited a tea pot factory. Of all people, Cole bought a tea pot set. Celia then referred to him as teapot guy.
We headed back to the pearl factory restaurant for lunch. There was nothing outstanding about this meal but it did fill the belly. There is never a shortage of food with our included lunches.
It was time to get back on the bus for a three hour drive to Hangzhou. Our group of thirty-three had melded and we used the time to socialize with friends old and new.
We stopped for a break, and ran through pouring rain and a flooded parking lot en mass to the shopping/comfort building.
The washroom was more of a two star facility compared to the four or five star ones that I was used to. Some of the doors were off the stalls but that didn’t seem to deter the inhabitants inside. After searching through many rows of women’s stalls, I was unhappy to find that there were only squat toilets.
I settled on a stall with a door and prayed as I simultaneously attempted to squat and balance myself with one arm planted against the wall; a precarious pose at best. Positioned in this point of no return, I noticed a large gelatinous piece of phlegm just slightly in front of my left foot.... “please don’t let me slide, please don’t let me fall” I muttered softly to myself.
After completing the business at hand, I hoisted myself off the wall and made my way to the shared trough like sink located between the men’s and women’s washrooms. A man a few feet away from me let loose an extensive long winded hork before spitting into the sink. It was too much for me and I flew out of the washroom like a bat out of hell.
Returning through the mall area, I was not tempted by any of the snacks offered for sale. Barry however managed to buy a hat.
Back on the bus, Celia suggested that we postpone our afternoon boat tour in hopes of better weather in the morning.
Our bus driver made good time and we arrived at our lovely five star Zheshang New Century Grand Hotel by 3:30pm. The night was free to do as we wished.
I noticed that a fashion show and convention was taking place on the third floor. I also checked with the concierge and found out that there was a karaoke bar on the fourth floor. Or at least that’s what I thought she said. “Karaoke on the fourth floor after supper” I suggested to all thirty three of our tour group.
Celia offered to meet with any of us that wanted to go for hot pot at a restaurant area about a fifteen minute cab ride from the hotel. Celia and Marie, Gary, Nicholas, Leah and Candace left for the restaurant and Richard, Helene and our group of eight met in the lobby at 6pm.
The concierge ordered us three cabs, explained to the driver where to take us and handed each of us a card with our hotel address. A good trick which I used when travelling with my kids when they were little...except I safety pinned a card to their tops which might not have been such a bad idea in our case.
The night time city was a feast for the eyes. Moving light shows brought the many sky scrapers to life; a group of giant butterflies flew across the surface of two side by side buildings. The trees down one long street had their trunks lit with warm golden lights.
We found Celia and the group she went with in the hot pot restaurant. Not being too hungry, Carol, Steve, Emily and I decided to find another restaurant where we could order something light.
We wandered in the drizzle until we found something that looked like a seafood restaurant. There were no English translations so I tried to use my translation app on the staff and the people sitting at the next table. After much picture taking with the helpful people, we ordered what they were having.
We should have looked at their meal a bit more carefully because when our order arrived, it was a huge shared stew of chicken feet, small sharp shelled crabs with a scant amount of meat on them and a few vegetables. We also ordered a few small plates of cheesy potatoes.
Steve was still hungry so we went across the street to McDonalds where he could understand the menu.
We returned to the Hot Pot restaurant and told the waiter that we were looking for our friends. Without asking who our friends were, he immediately took us upstairs to our group.
They weren’t finished eating so the four of us grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel. Our cab driver horked numerous times followed by spitting out his window during the 10 minute trip. Aaaaah! ..and that’s the last time I will mention horking for this trip. The cab ride was only 20 Yuen ($4) one way.
Upon returning to the hotel we decided to check out the fashion show and convention. They were just cleaning up after the day so Emily, Carol and I struck some fashion poses in front of the displays while Steve snapped our pics. This culminated with Carol and I contorting our bodies to bend over and look out from between our legs for the final shots. A smiling coordinator of the fashion show came over and gave us each a swag bag from the event. Of course much picture taking together followed.
We moved on to check out the Karaoke bar on the fourth floor. We only found a room filled with forty or fifty uniformed staff. I used my cell phone translator to ask one of the staff members where the Karaoke Bar was. She took my cell phone and showed me how to get on the internet. We never did find the Karaoke bar.