China:Suzhou and Hangzhou

(typed on my iPad during bus rides)

March 17th

Another day, another “Western” breakfast buffet! Look at me with my rice cereals, juice and fruit. Carbing up I guess! ūüėČ

After an early start, we made our way to the Suzhou silk research institute to do some exploring and learning…and well, shopping.

I walked away with a silk comforter. Allergen-free baby! And, it’s super soft and was a great price. Although I must say, I have never purchased bedding on a vacation and never thought I would. First time for everything, right? I also purchased two silk blankets that zip into pillows. ¬†One is for me, the other is for a gift. ¬†Score.

Afterwards, we visited the infamous Lingering Garden. This particular garden is large (almost 6 acres), and is considered to be one of the most famous gardens in all of China. Originally a private garden, this space has changed hands over the years and is now open to the public. Lucky us! Although the sky was gray and dreary, the garden was gorgeous, calm and very peaceful.  I am so appreciative of the calmness that visiting these outdoor spaces provides us on this trip.  I can actually see the relaxation on the faces of my tour-mates as we explore these spaces.

After our leisurely stroll through the Garden, we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. We were treated to a buffet-style lunch this go-round, giving us a break from the lazy-Susan set-up. However, I apparently cannot be trusted to choose my own foods.

I am not exactly sure which of the foods is to blame, but something in the pictures above made me terribly ill for the rest of the afternoon. ¬†Could have been the gluten in the cookies or cake (hey, I was hungry!) or the broccoli (rinsed/steamed in local water?) or the kidney beans (am I the only one who ate these?) —¬†although¬†none of these items seemed off as I consumed lunch. Thankfully, medicine and a good retching session or three cleared things up (sorry, but we are friends, right?) just in time for me to buy some gifts at the silk¬†embroidery¬†institute we visited. That’s right — nothing gets between me and economic development. Truthfully, the work at the silk¬†embroidery¬†was beautiful and I was glad that I felt well enough to look around,¬†appreciate¬†the artistry and pick up a few keepsakes.

We spent the rest of the afternoon making our journey to Hangzhou.  Along the way, we stopped at a Chinese roadside store and I picked up some snacks.

The chips were like Pringles and were¬†flavored¬†with tomato. Pretty gnarly, right? ¬†I thought so too and only ate a few. ¬†I ended up donating the rest of my food to the youngest member of our group — a 16-year old with a stomach of steel. ¬†We had an early dinner upon our arrival in Hangzhou and we headed to bed bright and early to catch some rest.

Travel Confessions:

  • I still miss John!
  • I have been able to use FaceTime to see, and talk to, John at least twice a day. What did people do…just a few years ago?

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