Another full day in China. We are in Hangzhou now - we left Suzhou by bus this afternoon after a full day.
After a decent buffet breakfast this morning (although I couldn't believe Aunty Mary Lou willing took noodles from the buffet!) we walked the hotel grounds. We were told there was a garden that our hotel key would grant us access to. A secret garden? We're in! They were amazing. Pagodas, koi, people doing tai chi, a group of seniors singing, caves with waterfalls, bridges and roses in bloom. Very different from our walks in Edmonton. It's nice to see so much green! Our walk in the garden was so peaceful and definitely one of the trip highlights so far.
We learned that Chinese retire in their late 50's and because they are so young they like to stay active. If they have grandchildren, they will help to care for the children. You will also find them in the public parks ballroom dancing, singing, doing tai chi, stretching with fans (this might be some form of tai chi- I don't know), or like we saw this morning, busting a move to some modern music. It's awesome to see.
We checked out of the gorgeous Suzhou Pan Pacific and headed to Master of Nets Garden. The walk to the garden took us through a side street area which was fascinating. The garden was lovely and interesting. We saw intricately carved ginkgo furniture, carved stone entrances, a tiger's burial site, a 500 year old pomegranate bonsai tree and another tree that was 900 years old. Truthfully the 900 year old tree didn't look like there was a lot of life left in it.
I must admit I didn't know much about silk before this trip, but a visit to the silk factory cured that. Suzhou is known for their silk production. Silk worms need to eat mulberry tree leaves and mulberry trees grow in Suzhou. We learned about the life cycle of the silk worm and how the cocoons are turned in to silk. The pupae become some sort of Chinese Viagra. We also learned about how the double cocoons can't be used for silk making so instead of wasting them, they are used to make silk duvets. James even got to try pulling the silk for the duvets. The silk in Suzhou is high quality and so soft. We bought a duvet (not the one that James stretched) and it is being shipped home. It'll be a surprised when it arrives in a couple months.
After lunch we had a boat ride along the grand canal. This is the old town area. Until about 15 years ago people used to throw everything in the river and do their laundry in it. It was interesting to see the houses on the water. They claim Suzhou is the Venice of the East. Apparently along the canal is where young love hangs out. And we bought some Tiger Balm on the boat. Odd?
Hangzhou is considered a medium sized city at a population of 7 million. Our hotel in Hangzhou is nice but only a 4 star. We prefer the 5 star we were in yesterday. We are right next door to a WalMart Supercentre. Very different than home. They sell chicken feet.