Suzhou art and seafood
Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
179Trip End Ongoing
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Talk about being outside your comfort zone- arrived in Suzhou and there were no other Westerners in sight. I'd never taken a taxi in China, but the nice guy who sat next to me on the train said all the sights were too far to walk. (He also wrote "Please direct me to China Unicom, I'd like to buy a 3G SIM card" in Chinese. Crucial. I haven't been able to figure this out yet. Far less people speak English here compared to Hong Kong. Fortunately, the hostel has wifi.) Regardless, I couldn't get my bearings with the map, even though it was in English.
The taxi driver was NOT happy when he realized that we couldn't communicate
We finally, and much to both our satisfaction- got a big smile from the driver- arrived at Twin Pagoda Temple. The two towers, each about 33m high, we're built in 982 AD.
Aside from me, there were only two other people there. Quite a change from Shanghai's crowds. I noticed a woman painting and asked her if I could watch. We chatted a bit and discovered that we're both Metal Dogs on the Chinese zodiac. She's just a few months older than me! When I told her that I only had a few hours before my return train to Shanghai, she suggested that I relax in the temple instead of rushing to see the gardens. She very kindly offered to share her calligraphy brushes and other art supplies and encouraged me to paint.
We swapped pictures when we finished. Hers is beautiful- worthy of framing! She wrote the story of our conversation in beautiful calligraphy below the painting.
I shared my blog URL with her, so Meizi, when you read this- thank you so much for the wonderful experience! I hope we keep in touch.
I walked up the main road on my way to the rail station, hoping to see some of the gardens along the way, but got distracted by steaming bowls of what appeared to be local crawfish
After he helped me order rice, the guy sitting across from me invited me to help him finish his dinner. He'd ordered too much- chicken with peppers and what I think was typical mung bean soup with bamboo. Delicious.
Later, he wrote "railway station" in Chinese and I ran to catch a cab. Late for my 7pm train! He also told me that it should cost about ¥11, so I knew not to pay the pedicabs the ¥50 they asked for. I know they're using manpower vs. petrol, but that's too much! Couldn't flag an available taxi, but managed to catch a bus with the help of a local girl- thanks!
Met a nice Colombian family on the bus. They didn't have as great an experience today. It's so hard with the language barrier.
Bullet train back to Shanghai. 22 minutes flat. ¥26. Take that, pedicab driver!
This evil mosquito has been sucking my blood for over an hour. I'm covered on welts! No one else in the bar seems bothered. It's Buddhists who don't kill anything, isn't it? Maybe no one saw me. :)