Emily and I had decided that we might consider going to other cities while we were in Nanjing and the surrounding area (just in case we got bored in Nanjing I guess). So, feeling like we might exhaust the city of Nanjing in about four days or so, we according bought tickets to another city for the fifth day. Basically, Suzhou was the next city in the guidebook and we saw that it had gardens and canals, and said, well, why not.
Back to the plot though. So, we arrived in Suzhou in the afternoon and spent a good amount of time wandering around trying to find a place to stay (sound familiar?). We ended up staying in an actual hotel for this night, because we were tired of looking for a hostel, and because we were only go to be there for one night, and because we really needed showers after the broken terribleness of the shower in the hostel in Nanjing.
Then, in the afternoon, it’s off to the Humble Administrator’s Garden. Supposedly, it’s the best and biggest garden in town. The only drawback is that everyone knows it’s the best and biggest garden in town, so you have to share it with all of the other tourists in town. Emily and I still had an excellent afternoon prowl, and did some sketching and generally had a nice time.
After the park, we roamed around our small quadrant of the city for awhile, ostensibly looking for food. As usual, though, we have a hard time deciding what we will eat. And the longer we go and the hungrier we get, the more we want to eat something that will be worth the time we spent prowling and being hungry (like that last night in Nanjing when we walked all the way from the center of town to nearly our hostel, on the search for food, and finally found a nice Indian restaurant in the bottom of mall. Definitely worth it). Eventually we found somewhere but I guess it wasn’t really memorable because I’m not recalling it at the moment.
We also had a nice talk with this Chinese guy called Mike who apparently collects foreign coins and just really likes chatting with foreigners and practicing his English. We talked about a lot of things, and apparently he speaks French too, so we talked in French a bit. It was fun!
Emboldened by an excellent first day in Suzhou, and motivated by out 1:00 pm train tickets for the next day, Emily and I made the bold decision to wake up early, in time for the morning opening of the gardens. So, we got up about 6:30, were ready at 7:00, and got to the Master of the Nets Garden at about 7:35, right after it had opened. The best part of getting out their early was that there were hardly any other tourists before about 8:30, so we could pretend that it was our garden. It was also a lovely garden.
We had some coffee and pastries, like the foreigners we are, and then moseyed around some temples for awhile. Then we set out to find the town’s twin pagodas, which we had seen from a distance one day, and had read about in the guidebook. We knew what general direction they were in, as we could see them from outside our hotel, but they looked like they were pretty far away. We found them eventually after figuring out that they weren’t, in fact, far away, they were just midget pagodas. But they were really cute baby pagodas, all done up in pink and orange like sherbet. So we took pictures, and sketched some more, and then went home.
Then we packed our bags and set out for Beijing, this time on hard sleepers. We also had lots of mini adventures on the train, got to practice our Chinese, picked up a really annoying older man friend,and learned the importance of not being in compartments 1-3 (right under the loudspeaker and next to the lighted bathroom). There was also a healthy dose of annoying Chinese pop music, and the lights coming on at 7:00 in the morning.
But, now we’re back in Beijing, after a wonderful trip. If we had to do it over again, I think we would have stayed more than two half days in Suzhou. And I would have taken at least one picture with Ethan. I think nobody believes we actually saw him. Oh well.
On to planning the next China adventure for the end of April! Suggestions anyone?