May 28

Day 5: From Shanghai to Suzhou

Saturday the 26th of May

Today we woke to thick smog once again…but this still didn’t cover the impressive views of the Shanghai skyline. Breakfast in the hotel was wonderful…lots of delicious options, including both Western and Eastern cuisines.

After packing our bags and organising our things, we met in the hotel lobby and set off on the Metro to the Shanghai Science and Technology markets. We were briefed on how to barter again and reminded of the zones in which we had to shop…then we let loose to spend some Chinese Yuan.

Basically you can buy almost anything cheap – basketball singlets, handbags, shoes, sunglasses, watches, jewellery, silk scarves and dressing gowns, iWatches, Bluetooth speakers, Chinese souvenirs, tshirts, jackets and much more! All the brands are there – Rayban, Oakley, NBA, North Face, SuperDry, Fossil, Gucci, Louis Vouton etc…but they are all very good quality fakes.

We all spent a lot of Yuan and looked pretty cool after with our new gear! No telling though what was purchased – some are gifts for Mums, Dads, siblings etc. back home and they might be reading 😉 The bartering was fun, however some of the sellers are very aggressive and are very persistent. We had to sort out one shopper who had been a little rude to Lachie and Paddy (from Maiden Gully).

We had lunch at the markets. Our group joined Maiden Gully, Quarry Hill and White Hills in a Western style restaurant where we had pizza and chips. It was not too bad – but not like at home! We do that sort of food better.

After lunch we returned to People’s Square and our hotel, where we split into smaller groups and explored the main mall in Shanghai. We stopped at a lolly shop and most of the group bought White Rabbits – they are a bit like Milko lollies at Home. We also found a side street with little market stalls and purchased key rings, magnets, miniature models of Shanghai buildings and more. The mall was pretty cool with lots of bright neon signs, billboards, busy shops, miniature trains going up and down the street and people everywhere. The locals kept grabbing us for selfies – famous still it seems!

At 4pm we packed our luggage on the bus and headed to Suzhou – a two hour trip. The sky was so smoggy that you couldn’t see the horizon or perhaps 1km I to the distance. The drive was interesting though – two hours of skyscrapers and interesting buildings mixed with rivers and patches of farmland.

At Suzhou, we stopped by one of the lakes to enjoy a Chinese meal at a beautiful restaurant. There was roast duck, Chinese style beef on hot rocks, sweet and sour pork, a cabbage dish, rice, dumplings and more! It was delicious!

After dinner we went to our hotel – the Grand Metropark. Fancy! We sat in the massive foyer and waited to be allocated our rooms. Once we went up to the rooms, we discovered they are more like suites with a lounge room, bedroom and bathroom – all facing out to the Suzhou skyline. The view at night was amazing looking at buildings that have electronic neon patterns flashing down all sides of the skyscrapers! Our hotel looked like a pinball machine with patterns flashing randomly up and down the sides of the building. We settled in, had showers, contacted our families and then relaxed with some TV (all Chinese though) and then bed.

So you all know – we can’t see your comments. They have been emailed to Matt and he will try and answer some in the blogs starting now….

ANSWERS: The food has been delicious – although a couple of times we have not liked a dish or two! The weather is very hot and humid – about 33 degrees but very steamy. Ciana has stayed close by Matt. She was only 50m away from where Matt was when lost, but was in a separate part of the Forbidden City – sort of like being on the little kids playground instead of the big kids playground :). It’s easy to get separated in the crowd, but we have lanyards with phone numbers in Chinese if ever one of us gets separated.

We miss you all too! Most of the time we have been happy and excited but when our flight got cancelled and we had to stay in an old, interesting hotel..a few of us had some tears….but we are resilient and we pushed through and have been great ever since.

Lachie said the chips were ok but no where near as good as Home. The food on the plane over was pretty ordinary…so we could say the food at home is 100% better.

We are all really enjoying ourselves…it’s great fun. The Silk Mall was pretty good – lots of shops but we only had 40 minutes there so didn’t get to see everything. Shirt washing is pretty easy to do…the sink makes a good scrub tub and we can wring the shirt dry with a towel. As it is hot, they dry quickly. Matt may have to remind some to wash the shirt each night – as it’s humid we get sweaty so a clean shirt is a must!

The only animals we have seen are dogs on the street and the odd bird or cat hanging around garbage bins. On the plane we didn’t get a lot of sleep…it’s hard to sleep in a chair for the night…

Matt spent 300 Yuan on a North Face Jacket. That’s about $60 Australian…not too bad as they cost about $400 in Australia. He could have got it cheaper though – another teacher got the shop keeper down to $40.

It took 11 hours to get to China. The airport in Melbourne is so different to Beijing. In Beijing the airport is massive – and you have to catch a train from where you land to where you pick up your bag. The buildings are very open and have high ceilings – generally it looks like a massive Southern Cross Station…but MASSIVE!

Food we would eat over and over: honey soy chicken plus fried rice (Lachie), sweet and sour pork (Charli, Abi and Ciana) and Peking Duck (Matt). Lots of fake items purchased – Gucci, Adidas, Yeezy, Rayban, Deisel etc. Name a brand…and they basically had it!

The Forbidden City is very large. It also has high walls and is surrounded by canals. Once inside, it is organised into sections, with smaller walled off areas with Chinese buildings, temples and gardens. It would be about the size of a 10 football grounds.

Our favourite activity so far: Tongli Watertown (Ciana), Era Circus (Lachie and Charli) and The Great Wall of China (Matt)

What are we looking forward to next? Homestay (Abi), Pearl Tower (Charli), River Cruise (Lachie), Tiger Hill (Matt) and Humble Administrators Garden (Ciana)

Abi, Charli and Ciana thankfully forgot the drill on the Great Wall. Bartering for silk was easy peasy….Kate has enough. Hands off!

Charli thinks the food is better than she remembered. Ciana thinks it is better food than Australia. Abi thinks it is not very nice – lol! Charli loves the food. Lachie also likes the food.

On the plane we tried to sleep, slept, ate, watched movies, talked and got sick of sitting.

Phew – all answered 🙂