Now I understand the difference between 5 star and 4 star. Everything. That is the difference. Our 4star hotel is stinky smoky, the breakfast was hard to find something to eat, they won't exchange money and claim not to have an international stamp.
Next door, as in attached to our hotel is Walmart. But not like one back home trust me. It had such a terrible smell I had to breathe out of my mouth. They did have a sale on chicken feet.
Today we had a good cruise on West Lake and had lots of laughs and smiles with the tourist girls from Hong Kong. There are pictures below. Take a photo of a young person here and they make the peace sign with their fingers. I asked our guide and he said they believe that is what cool people do in North America so that is why they do it. So cute!
We went to the Dragon Well green tea plantation which was awesome. Bought some green tea pills. Lots of them actually! We learned that if you put your cup of boiling hot tea to your eyes it stops you from having panda eyes. We all had our tea close to our eyes. It was interesting.
Had a good lunch for a change. It was like other food except it wasn't as greasy to we ate like it was our last meal! Uncle Rick stuck his glass of beer to his eyes. It is the Saskatchewan way of reducing panda eyes.
Next the Six Harmony Pagoda. It was a work out to go to the top. You'll see what I mean when you see the picture. Every floor had a stamp and red stamp pad and you can stamp whatever you like to show you conquered the floor. My parents have a postcard coming to them with all the stamps on it!
Next we went to a market shopping street. The smell of some of the food made my stomach turn. There were thousands of people, lots of noise, music, and the usual backdrop of car horns honking. We ate at KFC, bought a pop and then we were told we should not drink it since it had ice made of local water. So we threw it away only to learn that they boil the water before they make ice. So we went to DQ for a Blizzard. I bought a book that I fell in one with so I have a little souvenir.
It started to rain just in time for our next event, a show on the lake. They provide rain coats. The show is called Impressions West Lake, created by the same fellow who created the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic. Wow it is amazing. People walked on water, incredible lights and setting on the lake. Admittedly it is hard to explain it. If you find yourself at Hangzhou (pronounced Hong Joe) you have to go.
Now we are heading home, it is 930 pm and we haven't been home since 8 am. Tomorrow starts early as we head to Xian (pronounced She En).
Our hotel is mind blogging. The Suzhou Pan Pacific Hotel is from another era. It is a rambling hotel filled with oak, marble and cool door bells at each room. I was half expecting Sammy Davis and Frank to walk through the lobby, smoke in one hand, scotch in the other. It is rated as one of the top resorts in China.
After our breakfast we went for a walk on the grounds. We were told that there was a garden that must be seen. So we flashed our card at the entry area and walked into the most memorable part of the trip to date.
My gosh the garden area is giant. There were retired couples dancing, music playing, old ladies singing, a huge lake and pagodas and caves and waterfalls. Really. Right attached to our clearly over the top 5 star hotel. I could have stayed there all day. But alas we had an itinerary so off we went at 830 am.
We visited the Master of Nets Garden for some photos, but the gardens were not even close to the incredible beauty of our hotel gardens!
Then we went to a silk factory and learned how silk is produced. And by the time we learned it all we were in the factory store and bought a duvet made of silk and I bought my mom something special (you'll see it soon enough mom!). Next we had lunch and I hardly ate anything. But I did consume a protein bar so I'll survive.
The issue is everything for lunch and dinner is the same, greasy mystery meat in red sauce, rice and what we believe was deep fried spam. Today we had the added bonus of a fish head. So if it continues my diet has officially begun!
It is now travel time, heading in our bus to Hangzhou which is three hours away. I may just have a nap.
The 88 story Jin Mao Tower may look impressive but within the next few months it will be dwarfed by the new tower that is right next door. When you are on floor 88 you have to look up....way way up...to see the top of the new tower. There are hundreds of cranes in this city. Everything is being built at the same time. Including a bunch of new developments right around the Jin Mao.
We visited the Shanghai Museum and ended our time in Shanghai with a short but sweet trip down the Nanjing Road, the super cool and super crowded shopping area. I even stopped in at Starbucks for a coffee.
Then we headed out on the highway toward Suzhou where we are presently, living the high life in the Suzhou Pan Pacific Hotel, one of the top ten resorts in China. But it is short lived. We will see Suzhou (Venice of the east...) then head to Hangzhou for two days.
Shanghai is stuffed with people. 23 million and an additional 8 million that haven't registered. That is 31 million in one city. Impressive when you think that since 1976 couples are only allowed to have one child. Can you imagine if they didn't limit it... Yikes! Just saying!
And here I thought it was a 10 hour flight... But it was 12. That is a long flight, and although the food was wow, and not in a good way, we arrived in Shanghai in the late afternoon, around 430 pm. The airport was crazy busy so we had to wait it out to get through customs. By the time we got the restaurant it was probably 7pm, and our hotel close to 930 pm. It has been a long day. Tomorrow is a whirlwind trip to many places so I'll be sure to take many photos.
Our flight to Vancouver was uneventful which is nice. Hopefully our 10 hour flight to Shanghai goes as well. At our Vancouver hotel auntie Pat called 911. She said it was in error but we know better when you have a bunch of her family in one place. The cops came too but luckily we snuck out the back door.
We went to Garth and Anita's for dinner. Not only are they two extraordinary people they have probably the coolest house I have seen. I'm volunteering to be their live in man servant.
We are ready. We have a bag full of stuff that is stomach related. And we are taking Dukoral, which by its own admission is an "oral, inactivated travellers' diarrhea and cholera vaccine." Good to know cholera is not going to strike. That thing can kill you!
We have Imodium too. So the chances of my stomach slowing me down is significantly reduced. Which leads me to what appears to be a known food on the streets of big city China. Bugs. I wonder if all of our stomach planning will protect me from a cricket. I guess I'll need to make that decision when it presents itself.
Yes that is right. Black spiders to eat, fresh from the streets of Beijing. But don't drink the water.