We woke up early to take the day trip to Suzhou (蘇州) today. Our first stop was at the Lingering Garden (留園), which is regarded to be one of the four best gardens in the world. Below, you'll see some parts of it.. now, if only we can get our gardens to look like that! There's actually a girl on a boat playing the "Pi Pa" (琵琶) when we first arrived.
The gardens were beautiful, but what was bad about the experience was that the place was rampant with different tour groups and the bigger groups would have guides talking through a microphone! We realize this was popular no matter where you went, but it totally killed the tranquility of the gardens. When we were leaving, there was a guy and a girl playing the traditional instruments and singing. Apparently, this is where people would gather for the storytelling. Our guide told us that Suzhou opera was must like this, mostly soft, flowy songs, unlike the more well known Beijing opera.
Next, we went on to an old bridge over a canal, before heading to the "No. 1 Silk Factory".
We got a tour at the silk factory as they explained to us the life cycle of the silk worm, how to differentiate real versus fake silk, as well as how they gather and process the silk. After that, it was all gift shops of the different products they have made from silk; a total tourist trap!
Below: a closeup of the baby silk worms; the conveyor belt a local worked the cocoons off of; part of the cooking process of the cocoons to release the silk from the pupa.
Here, you can see Sunny working with the locals, trying to pull the silk outwards. Doing this repeatedly layering on, would form the inner of the silk duvet.
We went for lunch after that, which consisted of a buffet of really bad "western" food. I sure hope the locals don't think that this is what we eat daily! The next stop after that was the famous Zhouzhuang Water Village (周庄). It is regarded as the Venice of the East, since it is an ancient village built on canals.
Below, you can see us riding the boats down the canal. It's pretty nice, but the day was really gloomy and it was getting nippy... which is why we all have our hoods on.
Before we left Zhouzhuang, Sunny wanted to show how much he missed Jas at the water village... so here's a picture of him pluckering up to a pack of "Jasmine" scented Tempo! (And he explicitly said, can't post on FB, so.... anyone else want to? :)