Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  ,
Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hangzhou would have to be the Paris of China, by far the most romantic little place I have been to in China. I can really recommend it. A beautiful serene lake surrounded by carefully manicured gardens, paths and cafes. Large Weaping Willows line the lake frontage and at night the Pagoda's dotted around the lake are glittering with fairy lights. It really was a lovely little destination, a nice place to relax. I hired an oversized golf cart to circumnavigate the lake, I did hire a bike, but I thought that I was going to die so gave up on that after about half an hour. Back to the golf cart.. 20Km of little cobbled paths through the gardens and over little bridges etc, it was abit like a Thomas The Tank Engine course for adults! I really enjoyed it.

Only in China..... I was sitting on the lake frontage in the evening and this lovely little Chinese lady, dressed all in white and very immaculate wandered down the steps. The general rule in life is not to laugh at the misfortune of others, but once out of sight I couldn't help myself... this poor lady slipped on the bottom step, fell straight into the lake and was up to her eye balls in dirty lake water! It kept me giggling for ages.

Only in China.... There was the gardener that appeared to be washing the leaves on the trees (to bad about the toilets, at least the leaves on the trees are clean!) with a high pressure hose. Mindlessly this guy was chit chatting to his mates waving the hose around squirting directly at all of the tourists - people were scattering everywhere, totally soaked... this dude was totally oblivious!

Only in China... would they hang a sign in the toilet (6 stories up)saying "Beware of Landslide"..... I am still abit confused by that one!

Hangzhou certainly wasn't a bed of roses though. My first night of accommodation was revolting - the toilet didn't work and it was extremely isolated (the Rough Guide has let me down afew times). I was also stung on the eye during the night by something which resulted in a swollen, painful black eye - not that pleasant really. Given that Hangzhou is a major a tourist destination I was surprised that I never saw another white person. It was in Hangzhou that I realised that the only real comfort you have when travelling alone in a place like China is your own company.

Onwards to Suzhou! I was greeted at the train station with a huge add saying "Electric Quilting Machine On Sale" ....Ahhh I thought to myself, perfect! What kind of Nanas paradise would this be without Electric Quilting Machines on sale! Destination Suzhou was all about the gardens, which turned out to be a huge anti-climax. I had wanted to see ancient bonsai and ancient style with beauty and balance. Instead I saw rocks and afew manky old plants, clearly I struggled to appreciate the gardens! I guess their age was impressive though, established in 1170 and modified in 1700, one had to appreciate that point. Not enough colour, plants (too many rocks), texture or bonsai for my liking though. In fact there wasn't even a bonsai to be seen! In general I have noticed quiet afew fairly common familiar plants around though - Gingko, Magnolia, Coleus etc.... but no bonsai..

I went out last night in Suzhou, ended up watching abit of the tennis at the local with afew ex-pats. All older guys, business men of various sorts but they were good company. It was good to chatter and have afew beers. On my way back to my accommodation there was abit of a brawl going on between 2 guys, alittle bit of biffo - the odd left/right hook here and there. It all seemed pretty tame until one of the guys pulled a meat cleaver out and started hacking at the head and shoulders of the other. It was pretty horrific and I put on abit of a quick march. I didn't fancy being caught up in some bizzare Chinese crime, or worse still as a witness to a murder. In saying that Suzhou was yet another really pretty little place and a nice place to visit - lots of pretty canals and a smaller town (city), slower feel about it.

I really am bloody useless in some area's of travel, leaving things right until the last minute is one of those things! I hate waiting around for quarter to half an hour before a departure when you know that you're never actually going to depart early - what's the point of arriving too early??!! Traditionally I don't let myself down, but today I missed the train to Chengdu. In fact I was really really peeved off, technically I had cut things abit fine, but I was not late. The train was still on the platform with 2 minutes before departure, the doors were still open but the attendants wouldn't let me get on. I was furious to say the least. When I finally accepted that I was stuck in Shanghai (next train to Chengdu that I could get onto was supposedly to leave on Sunday) I reluctantly hauled myself together, found somewhere to stay and made some enquiries about getting another train ticket to Chengdu. As it turns out the train that I had missed was actually destined for somewhere North of Beijing, not Chengdu (central China)at all! I had provided the ticket office with the correct Chinese characters to indicate that I wanted to go to Chengdu, but they had ticketed me incorrectly! I now have a ticket destined for Chengdu, leaving first thing tomorrow morning. Every cloud has a silver lining!
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kiwijen on

hey susan. glad you having such an awesome time! sounds tres exciting! you go girl!!

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