Hidden Valley Waterfall

Hidden Valley Waterfall

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Shanghai and Suzhou, China - a nice weekend away.

So, my friends and I decided that a girl's weekend away would be just the thing for us to get through to our next scheduled holiday from work. We chose Shanghai and Suzhou (near Shanghai).  It was a beautiful weekend full of sun, lots of laughter, and only a few mishaps along the way. Below is our group on our first day there - heading to the waterfront.

Chinese translation and interpretation is so amusing to me. "Make tea chat"....hmmm....if my tea starts talking to me, I'm heading back to the shrink! 
Shanghai is a lovely Chinese city filled with beautiful park areas. It is much cleaner (at least on the ground) than what I am accustomed to here in Shenzhen where I live. This picture below is near the Bund - a famous area along the river that has a beautiful view of the skyline. 

The one below is of the buildings along the Bund. There is a colonial flair here, which makes it so intriguing. 
And, of course, there are modern buildings, such as the "spaceship looking thingy" as I liked to call it. I never did find out what it was, but it is cool looking if nothing else. 

We visited a section of town where all of the buildings are done in the traditional style. I love "modern meets traditional" within a single city. The diversity is enjoyable without being predictable. 

Amid the traditional styled city is a beautiful water area, of course, packed with lots of people taking pictures. But, lovely all the same.

The following pictures are from Yu Yuan Gardens. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in here, as each turn had another picture perfect setting for photos. I could have spent a long time in here, but we had other things we wanted to see and do in our short time. If you are ever in Shanghai, this is a must. 

After we left the gardens, we continued on our big bus tour we had purchased. We figured it was a great way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. We were right. Along the way, I saw this and felt like I was on cloud 9. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to shop. I miss stores like this. 

Also along the way on the tour, we passed a temple. Outside was a large pole with these golden lions (?) on top. It looked so massive against the blue sky. 

So, here in China, it is rare that they wait their turn for anything. They push onto public transportation, will steal taxis from you, push in line at the markets, etc. BUT, when it comes to food, there is a respect that goes beyond the malicious pushing behaviors. It causes lines to be formed and rules to be followed. As a foodie, I appreciate this.  Now, below, I am not sure WHAT the line was for, but I will put money on the fact that it was for a food. 

Later in the day, we encountered this charming man along the side walk. He was playing this thing (no clue) and doing a comedy of sorts in between. We only know because we asked someone. It was all in Chinese, but others walking past were laughing, so it must have been amusing to them. Even without knowing what he was saying, it was amusing to us. 

We visited the Oriental Pearl Tower (TV Tower). It reminds me of something I would have seen on the cartoon the Jetsons. It just does not seem real. Yet, it is. We went up for a view of the city. 

The building in the background that has a square top...I called it the "bottle opener", as it reminded me of one. There is a hole in the building. It seems fitting for opening beer. :) 

A closer look.....see.....looks like a bottle opener, right? 

There is a glass floor, so you can see down. It was fun. I like things like that. I appreciate the different views and luckily, I am not afraid of heights.  

This is the view of the skyline at dusk. 

Now we move into Suzhou.  We planned to get there about 10:30 am on Saturday, but thanks to a holiday in China and too many cars, we were stuck in traffic for over 2 hours. We ended up getting out of our taxi in deadlocked traffic and walking to find a metro to get to the train station. By the time we did, the next available train for us was another two hours out.  We finally arrived in Suzhou around 4:30 pm. An entire day was wasted in traveling. From what we did see of the city, I liked it. I plan to do the trip again next year, now that I know what to do and how to avoid that much traffic!

Above: Suzhou is known for the canals the run around the city. It has been called the "Venice of China" .

This is just a cutie (above) that we encountered at a stop light. Below are lamp coverings that were beautiful. I loved the colors of them. I will get one next time. I am not sure why I did not get one this time. Probably because I do not have any normal light figures to put it over. 

The next thing was just disturbing. The bottles you see below are not for babies. They are filled with various juices for ADULTS. Yep, that's the new "fad" here - drinking from a bottle. I have no idea what the hell is wrong with people. haha

Speaking of drinking though, we found this bar that was decorated for various holidays. There was a spider web on the ceiling (Halloween), Santa decor on the wall (Christmas), hearts and love letters on another wall (Valentine's) and a lot of other mix-and-match decor that made no sense. I've learned, though, that here in China, things do not need to make sense. You just go with the flow.

Some of my favorite things about traveling to new places are the street foods.  I actually did not try these ones, but they looked so good!

Suzhou is also known for silks. I bought some silk scarves while there. These ones were out of my price range, but definitely worth looking at. To be so soft and gorgeous....ahh....

Below is one street food I DID eat and boy, was it worth it!! It was like a tortilla in size, like a crepe texture, and had bacon and egg in it. And, it was under $1 USD. Yep...that's the good stuff. 

On a bit more expensive meal, we had some of the best sushi that I have eaten outside of Japan. It was excellent and overall, reasonably priced. The entire tray of varied sushi on the right hand side was under $15 USD. Seriously. I can't get that scrumptious-ness back home for that price. I wish I could! 

I found this sesame cake thingy-mabob in the store at the train station. I should have purchased it, as it just looks good and says something sweet. But, again, I walked away. I'm sure I will see these again though, and I plan to pick one up when I do. 

Shanghai and Suzhou was a good weekend trip. Like I said, I'll do it again sometime next year. The cities were nice. The pollution wasn't bad while we were there either. And by bad, I mean in comparison to China's standards. As an American who grew up in a small town without big factories, I have a much different perspective on clean air and what I consider "not bad".  But that is another story for another day.  

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