On Sunday we met in the lobby at 9 a.m. with another day planned for "touring." We were met by Mandy, an Ameson representative who basically serves as an advisor/college counselor for the American High School students at Ghezhou. The plan was to head to Tongli, an ancient "watertown" about an hour and half away, and en route to our next city (and school signing) in Suzhou. We never made it to Tongli, and I share the link to the post I wrote that day for the 3six5 blog. (Note: I applied to write for 3six5 earlier this year, and it just so happened that I was assigned this day.)
And, some additional photos from the excursion:
This next picture is from one of our iPhones. The bus driver was using old maps, and Mark was having a little fun seeing what Google might do for us...;-)
We gave up on making it to Tongli, and headed on to Suzhou to check in at the hotel and get a late lunch. Suzhou is still in the Jiangsu Province, but it is a "destination spot" known for its Japanese gardens. We toured one of those gardens after lunch. It was quite similar in style to the garden in Shanghai, and Mandy said many of these gardens were at one time private gardens. Also she said it is very common for wealthy families in Suzhou to have such gardens incorporated into their own homes.
Although Suzhou is still a large city by American standards (nearly 6 million people), the overall feel is much different than Shanghai. It seems more relaxed, and the streets are filled with many more bicylcles and mopeds than cars and buses. However, moreso than Shanghai, this traveling delegation of 9w hite Americans (one female and 8 men) got more than its fair share of "stares." In fact, I think they found Jeff Mitchell and me running at 7 in the morning past street vendors and across the crazy intersections quite perplexing! (Note: We have yet to see anyone out running, and the exercise rooms at the hotels are filled with foreign travelers, rarely anyone Chinese.)
One final photo from the day shows one of the real treats of our trip. The food here, although very well prepared and really quite good, gets a little tiresome after awhile. There are only so many times you can have a bowl full of eel (looks like worms), hot pots with unknown stewed objects, and seaweed. (OK, we've had beef, duck, pork, and broccoli too...) Today's treat was somewhat akin to "kettlecorn," and seemed to be something like fried corn dipped in sugar. It definitely drew rave reviews from our crowd: