Saturday, May 24, 2008
Let's get caught up...
Yes, it's been a while and I apologize for not being able to post each day. It was my intention to do so, but our trip has had a few snags and bumps along the way, plus Internet connections have been VERY slow......I began to think mailing in the posts would have been a quicker route! But here we go, we're in Suzhou again today after spending yesterday in Changzhou, and we are in a BEAUTIFUL hotel with fast Internet speeds, so I'll bring you all up to date:
I left off telling you of our safe arrival in Shanghai, we were exhausted, frazzled and so ready to find a bed. Traveling by bus to Suzhou took about two hours our first night, we got to the hotel late to find a buffet set up for us and some interesting rooms awaiting our tired bodies. Briefly, some of the rooms had totally glassed in bathrooms.....not just a glassed in shower, but the the entire bathroom was glass, meaning you were completely visible to your room mate in the bedroom!!! As one girl put it, "These rooms are "trippin"! Everyone took it well and laughed it off, chalking it up to "culture"! Our next day found us exploring the 2500 year old pagoda...."Tiger Hill". Surrounded by beautiful ancient gardens, we spent the better part of two hours taking it all in, we also became the center of attention for the locals! My little girl, Maire (Moya) suddenly found herself the unofficial goodwill mascot for UK! Nearly all the Chinese wanted a picture of her, they would shyly gesture with their cameras and in their way "ask" if they could pose with her. Proud mama here was beaming as they fawned over her blonde hair and extended their warmth and genuine smiles to us. Later in Suzhou we had time to visit the silk factory AND the retail store. Seeing the process of making silk from worm to clothing was amazing! This is an art form beyond belief and the prices in the store we were given special access to were unbelievable! We walked away with an assortment of scarves, purses, robes and pajamas, totally giddy with the fact we paid a fraction of the cost in the U.S. Afterwords, it was on to the "old city" of Suzhou where we walked the streets and became immersed in the culture of their everyday life. The contrasts are startling to say the least! Splendor and squalor are side by side in this country. To walk the streets is to completely suspend your perceptions of how life "should" be. The beautiful and the profane, the ancient and the ultra modern, serene gardens and unbelievably dirty streets all come together seamlessly. Your senses are assaulted from every side, street hawkers selling their goods are all over you while sights, sounds and smells are vying for your attention, you step gingerly over the cobbled and broken streets, and you make darn sure you look both ways before crossing too! Traffic here is absolutely terrifying and fascinating at the same time. (Traffic warrants an entire post to itself, so more on that a little later). Finding just the right souvenir in one of the many little shops, haggling for it and getting it for a GREAT price is a little thrill not to be missed! I sucessfully haggled for my first souvenir and walked away with a new skill under my belt. Now, if I could just "haggle" some UK basketball tickets next season!!!! OK, I'll dream on!
Well we need to get ready for our second performance tonight, I'll sign off and continue later this evening, filling you in on the performance in Changzhou yesterday. Stay tuned, I think this connection is going to hold....more later.
Posted by Cindy at 12:57 AM