Maria Holland

Suzhou, As Seen Through A Window

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm

We began our tour of Suzhou with the North Temple Pagoda for Repaying Kindness. 

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We climbed up to the top for a stunning view of smoggy Suzhou.

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There actually was cool stuff to see at the top, but most of it was written on the pagoda.  Despite many signs “strictly forbidding” the painting or carving of messages, the top floor of the pagoda was covered in wishes and messages. 

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These were fairly typical: “The Zhou Peng family was here!” and “I wish my parents health, all the best, and a life of peace”.  You really get a feeling for how filial the Chinese are from these messages!

I was in an artistic mood, so I took most of my pictures framed by windows.  I like how they look . . .

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From the pagoda, we walked down the kitschy street outside the Suzhou museum towards the largest of the city’s many gardens, the Humble Administrator’s Garden.  It was beautiful, and there were lots of windows.

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It was hot (although I told Matt it wasn’t nearly as bad as Xiamen would be) so when we discovered an air-conditioned visitors’ center at the end, we went in to check it out.  They had a video about the garden, which we watched.  It was a great video – completely unintelligible even to me, but still very cool.  (And by ‘cool’, I am obviously referring to the air conditioning.)

We went back to our hotel, grabbing Lanzhou pulled noodles on the way to eat lunch in our room.  We unanimously agreed to take an afternoon nap, sleeping for a couple of hours before going back out in the evening. 

The Lonely Planet failed us here again.  I really shouldn’t be that surprised; Emei Shan was basically one big epic LP fail and their maps are clinically proven to suck.  Every time I take it out to plan a trip I remember how stupid it is that you have to haul the entire brick-sized China book every time you go to a city covered in a few pages.  On my last trip to Jilin, I just tore out the map I wanted and left The Brick at home.  Also, what’s with recommending Ajisen Noodles in every city in China?  It’s like mentioning Chipotle in every American metropolis; it’s not a local specialty of anywhere, especially since the food is freaking Japanese.  They just miss so many little details, like the area code for Hangzhou in every single phone number they list for the city.  Oops. 

End rant.  Let’s just say I don’t think I’ll ever buy another Lonely Planet.  But, you have to start somewhere and, having already spent the $30+ on The Brick, I usually start there.  So we headed for the port for a 35-kuai, 80-minute boat tour of Suzhou’s canals, only to end up with 120-kuai tickets for a 60-minute tour.  It was nice, but it was a 350% increase from the price we had expected!

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We dined at Pizza Hut, sharing a dinner for two that included all of Pizza Hut’s usual specialties – you know, a meat pizza, thai curry wraps, beef croquettes, pancetta, and tiramisu.  Pizza Hut in China is an experience, for sure.

We both wanted to stay up to watch the semifinal between Spain and Germany at 2:30.  It began with some excitement when a fan ran onto the field, but the late hour and all conspired against us.  Matt fell asleep at halftime while I struggled through the rest of the game.  I did notice, in the quiet hotel room, that I understand quite a bit of the commentary – on soccer, in Chinese.  (Well, a lot more than the garden video we watched this morning, for sure!)  Anyway, my perseverance ended up being worth it, because not only did Spain not allow four German goals as seems to be popular this year, but they WON!  I celebrated by sending a delirious congratulatory text to Carlos and immediately falling asleep.

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  1. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. She’s BACK!

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