The Tourists become the tourist attractions!

Trip Start Dec 01, 2011
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4
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Trip End Mar 02, 2012


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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Sunday, December 4, 2011

We decided to get out of Shanghai today and took the bullet train to Suzhou a population of 5.71 million which is considered as a cute small town…interesting!  Lonely planet describes Suzhou as the ‘Venice of the east’ its main draw card for tourists is to visit the gardens. Our first glance at the town: did we get of at the wrong stop? where are the gardens? It felt like we had been dropped off in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by white modern apartment blocks.

Not totally prepared for what was around the corner we had imagined a day of strolling around the gardens and temples but this is not how our day would turn out. As you leave the train terminal you are confronted by a mass of locals screaming at you trying to sell you tours to see all the gardens.  As we make it to the upper level thinking we have survived the mass there waiting at the top of the stairs stand more locals beaming with enthusiastic smiles hoping that you will choose them. After Rob desperately looking through the Lonely Planet to see how on
earth we will get out of here we came to the realization that it was going to be difficult to see the gardens and a lot of time and wasted effort trying to figure out what and where we were going. We calculated the cost and for 20$ each we decided why not so YES WE GAVE IN!!!

 

We were taken to a mini van and a driver takes us into the town to meet our guide. At this point we sill hadn’t parted with our money, we are met by a well groomed women both looking at each other thinking maybe this will be okay until our guides first words to us are “you speak Chinese” mmmm we know then that this was going to be interesting. Our tour guide spoke very little English and we spoke no Chinese so our day was made up of pointing and hand gestures. The tour was for Chinese speaking tourists…pity the guy who sold it to us didn’t mention that!!!!!!! All day we had no idea what was being said or what was going on despite that we got to see many of the gardens (Lions Grove Garden, Garden to Linger In, North Temple Pagoda) and a boat tour along the canals which was pretty cool and as a bonus (NOT!!!!!!) were taken to a jade factory were the main focus was to sell you jade. I’m sure it would have been interesting if a) you understood Chinese and b) it didn’t go on for an hour!!!! So we sat there with a smile on our faces nodding when everyone else nodded clapped when the rest did, it wasn’t until the tour group turned and started to giggle at us that somehow we had become the bud of a  joke!!!!! , with our pleasant smiles we just giggled with them. We were approached by a girl in our tour who started to speak English to us, the relief on our faces must have been priceless and for
the rest of our tour became our translator and we were very thankful for her kindness. We had to laugh by the end of our tour we had become somewhat famous many of the group started to take photos of us and wanted photos with them on it as well so we had become the attraction!!!!

 

Would we go back again NO and I wouldn’t really recommend going out there. Yeah it was a funny experience but am pretty sure there are gardens in shanghai that we could have seen for half the price and half the hassle

 
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