Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Other Side - Day 4

As I mentioned in the previous posts of this series, I am writing a mini-series on my trip to China. Each day was so jam-packed with activities that I decided it would be best for readers as well as myself to split the days up into posts for better digestion of information.

On our last episode, we went on a beautiful boat cruise through the water ways of Suzhou, visited an embroidery factory, and walked along Golden Rooster Lake. Today begins with a very fancy breakfast.

The hotel in Suzhou was probably the nicest one we stayed in. My mother and I each had our own huge room in our hotel suite, with a queen-size bed and all the amenities we could want. I was really surprised with the fanciness. Breakfast was even fancier.

Although, I suppose money can't buy you a good translation, because some of the labels on the food were hilarious. Cold Milk became "Cold Mike" and Cereal Bowls became "Bowels". Such fun. Also, I peeled and ate a fresh water chestnut! It was so cool.

After breakfast, we visited the lovely Suzhou gardens. Everything about it was beautiful, even the walk through a cobblestone pathway to get there.

Then we were on our way to a silk factory, where we watched the workers stretch the silk that was extracted from little larvae. Some people even tasted the larvae! How gross. The factory was mostly pretty boring to be honest, and I wasn't in the market to buy any silk clothing or bedding, so I was ready to leave pretty quickly.

Silk pods! Made by bugs!

Stretching the wet silk pods over a metal frame.

Some snake-alcohol stuff that may be a delicacy or may have been placed there for tourists to take pictures of. It's a toss-up.

After lunch, we were on our way to a town called Wuxi (pronounced woo-shee). Our first stop there was actually quite beautiful. It was called Mt. Lingshan Grand Buddha Scenic Area, otherwise known as Chinese Disneyland. There were all sorts of statues, buidings, and fountains all symbolizing a part of Buddhism, and we traveled around to all of them on a sort of tram. It was quite surreal.

A cute little illustration of the tram car that took us around the vast park.

My first glimpse of the GIANT buddha!

There were gold statues of all of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac.

Some weird buddha fruit! I assume they grow it inside a mold.

This buddha is 88 metres tall, made of bronze and weighs over 700 tons. It is quite a sight.

Mama was a good sport with the picture taking :)

In the interests of too much information and full disclosure: I present a slightly personal story. As we approached the big bronze buddha, I was readying myself to climb all the steps and touch its foot. Then I realized, I really, really had to go to the bathroom. Number two. I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be able to climb the steps in my current state, but that was the least of my coming battles. There was a sort of open-air bathhouse off to the side of the statue, which was basically holes in the floor with flimsy stall walls separating them. No toilet paper, no sinks. I steeled my knees and went in for the long haul: doing a number two in the squatting position. And oh boy, did I succeed. Cross that one off the bucket list.

The following video is a time-lapse sitting on the back of the tram as we left. You can see all the monuments that we visited in the video!

After the Buddhist Disneyland, we went to a beautiful teapot factory in a little village. No pictures inside unfortunately, but I was truly taken with the scenery in the village. I wish we could have walked around there longer.

After that, we had a simple dinner in Wuxi. Oddly, after all of our other food had been brought to the table and eaten, we were presented with a deep-fried goose on a plate. Head, beak and all. Don't believe me? Here is one my rare duck faces:

On the way back to the hotel, we passed some very interesting nightlife in Wuxi.

I want to drive a tuk-tuk in Canada!

I truly wish I had gotten a picture of this, but the bus was moving too fast for to react. Wuxi has a hospital with multiple buildings. Nothing weird about that. But the names of the buildings...oh my god. We had:
  • Maternal child club
  • Confinement floor
  • Comprehensive building
I couldn't make this stuff up. It was hilarious. To see stuff like this on a government run building like a hospital was so funny.

Next time, we'll travel onto Hangzhou, the chosen location for the 2016 G20. There we will see the beautiful Tai Lake, a buddhist temple, and the most excellent highway rest stop ever.

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