Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day 11: Off to Suzhou! (Written by Bryce)

Day 11: Off to Suzhou!
(Written by Bryce)

We made it out of Shanghai, and as usual the train station was a nightmare.  You've seen them drive, what do you think getting on a train was like???  It's kind of like a mini stampede with 600 lane changers with luggage.  I always am left with the feeling that the mentality of train boarding is that of one who is escaping imminent danger.   All haste must be exercised.
The bullet train to Suzhhou was, pardon the pun, a blast.  We no sooner got seated and moving like a rocket, when they announced we were there!  Very nice way to travel, and I don't recall ever going that fast in my life.  Maybe one or two beer trips on a late Sat. Night, but I digress. This is an old picture pretty town that Marco Polo called the Venice of China.  Canals and Buddhist Temples and definitely feels like old China.  We went for a walk last night and discovered blocks and blocks of wedding dress shops.  Suzhou is the silk center of China, and a bride can easily pick up a dazzling gown for as little as $80.  It's quite common for a bridal family to come here a get decked out for a bargain, and go back to Shanghai, or Nanjing (Nanking) for the party. Even people from Europe do this.  The dresses are amazing.  Red is the traditional colour for a Chinese wedding dress, although white is becoming more common as the country becomes more westernized.

Anyway I dropped my cane in the taxi, and I'm sure the driver had it sold by afternoon.  We chased a new one down and just used Rickshaws, as a protest against unscrupulous cane flogging hacks. We ended up in a couple of markets, filled up on pastry and Arly cut a few bargains with a couple of locals in a silk stall.  It does get a bit embarrassing to watch my dear wife beat the price down with these old women.  They claim their children are going hungry ( they haven't seen a maternity ward in 60 years) and Arly is walking out on them ---no sale at that price!!!  Cooler heads prevail and a deal nearly always is struck, with very few tears shed.

Anyway we are ate the Hotel Soul, and it is wild.   The place is done in a cross between Star Trek and Mao's Long March.  One elevator is very very bright red and a constant video of The Chairman giving a dissertation on something.  One lift has an astronaut in it and galactic vistas out the portholes, followed by Door #3!!!!  We are not privy to the mysteries of what lies behind it, as we haven’t been in it yet. The rooms are spectacular, with the exception of a swampy smell in the bathroom.  The walls to the toilet are semi see thru, so we are truly a transparent couple in all facets of our relationship!  A mingling of designs from Ray Bradbury and Salvador Dali.  
Anyway, I must go have my very public shower and try the Hotel Soul breakfast, which comes with the price of our room.  Usually watery rice and some pickled cabbage to float on it.  

Pedicabs are a cheap and fun way to get around!

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