Friday, April 13, 2012

A Spoonful of Sugar

We started reciting this at lunch yesterday. Who knows why.

But little weekend trips are like medicine; they make things better. Not that they're bad. Anyway, this weekend, I went back to Suzhou. This time I went with Laura and Karen, and we stayed in a lovely little hostel on a historic street by a canal. Very quiet and pretty. After we arrived on Tuesday and checked in, we found lunch at a little dumpling place and ordered what the waiter/owner recommended, very helpful since we couldn't read the menu. 3 kinds of dumplings later and we split up to do some sight-seeing, since it was their first visit and my second. I headed south from where we were and went to see twin pagodas that someone had built for their teacher, a garden, and the southern scenic area. It was mostly sunny, so it was nice to walk around and sit by the water in the garden. The scenic area (Pan Men) had a pagoda to climb which supposedly had a great view of the city. So I splurged the extra 6RMB ($1) and decided to climb. They were the narrowest most steep stairs ever in a pagoda, and I actually had to duck my head between levels. Also, you can only climb to the 4th of 7 floors, so I don't know if I'd recommend it, but the view was nice enough. I kept walking along, climbed the wall, which is a land and water gate; I think it said the only one in China. By this time it was starting to rain, so I headed back to meet the girls for dinner. We had some more dumplings, went back to the hostel, realized how early it was, and went for some tea at a teahouse down the street from our hostel on the canal. Delicious.
Courtyard outside our hostel door
Twin Pagodas built for a teacher

Master of Nets Garden
PanMen Scenic Area

Ruigong Pagoda
Some of the steps in Ruigong Pagoda

The next day, we were debating what to do and eventually decided to take a bus trip to Tongli, a water town a bit outside Suzhou. We had heard it was beautiful; I had heard it was a place that offered to for a temple stay; and we had heard there was a sex museum. When we got there, we had our tickets to enter the city, which included some gardens and historic halls, no boat ride on the canals in the water town. It was a bit, very touristy, and I only recommend it if you get there very early to do more of the sights. From the bus station, we took an electric cart ride for 2RMB to the old town's entrance, went to a garden. It was a meditation garden but there were 1 or 2 schools on field trips there, so it was not so peaceful. Fortunately while we were there, someone informed us about a better garden (much nicer and quieter), and we walked there. Then we went to the China Sex Museum. It was surprisingly interesting in an informative and educational way, though it had some fun statues as well. It's the only one in China, and tells about the history of sex and how it progressed. 
Garden in Tongli
The red things are prayers or wishes for  ancestors at a temple in Tongli garden

Statue in China Sex Museum
You don't see that every day

Then we had dinner, caught the bus back to Suzhou and the train back to Nanjing. 

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