On a daily basis, we’ll receive a morning call to start our day off. That’s the sucky part of following a tour, it becomes mandatory that you wake up at the stipulated timing to gather and set off. The morning was freezing when we made our way to Oriental Pearl Tower 东方明珠塔. Shanghai’s winter is bearable until the wind blows, it is so chilly you feel that your nose can drop off!
We were greeted by the 468 meters high tower upon alighting from the tour bus.
The design of the building is said to be based on a verse of the Tang Dynasty poem Pipa Song by Bai Juyi about the wonderful sprinkling sound of a pipa instrument, like pearls , big and small falling on a jade plate (大珠小珠落玉盤/dà zhū xiǎo zhū luò yù pán). However, the designer Jiang Huancheng says that he did not have the poem in mind when designing the tower. It was the chief of the jury board who said it reminded him of that poem – wikipedia
The queue was long, but constantly moving…
Super misty winter day, so the view wasn’t all that breathtaking.
This glass floor observation deck is nerve-wrecking for me..my legs already feel jelly without even stepping on it!
Next up was Nanjing East Road 南京东路.
“East Nanjing Road is a dedicated commercial zone. At its eastern end is the central section of the Bund, featuring the Peace Hotel. Immediately west of the Bund precinct was traditionally the hub of European-style restaurants and cafes, although in recent years these have become less of a feature as the demographics of visitors to Nanjing Road have shifted from affluent local residents to visitors from around the country. Close by is the Central Market, a century-old outdoor market today specialising in electronic components and digital media. Further west is the Nanjing Road pedestrian mall. Located here are most of Shanghai’s oldest and largest department stores, as well as a variety of domestic retail outlets, and some traditional eateries with a long history.” -Wikipedia
RWS spotted in the streets of Shanghai!
It’s nice to find colorful flowers in the midst of the chilly winter days!
Takopachi spotted! We bought some as it was piping hot and too hard to resist!
It was hard initially for us to adapt to the dining timing of the people of China. They have lunch as early as 11am and dinner is usually 5pm. Moreover, it was winter and the day is short and nightfall is as early as 5+ to 6pm.
After lunch we headed to Cheng Huang Old Street 城隍老街. It is regretful that in this trip we did not manage to visit Cheng Huang Temple 城隍庙. In fact the temple is just in the vicinity of this shopping street, so be sure to pop by if you are there.
The structures of these shopping areas are really marvelous! Imagine how pretty they would be during Chinese New Year!
Ant and I followed some signage leading to the restrooms. It led us to an ulu looking pathway with the restrooms at right smack in between a lane. Ant and I spent less than 5 secs in the restroom and turned out in sync. The restroom was a nightmare! In the ladies, the cubicles have got no doors, are low rising (can look right into the urinal and see the people squatting there) and stink right to the core. It is somehow disturbing that while people are using the restroom, the others queuing outside the cubicle would stare at the person using it. :X
We navigated to the newer section of the streets where the mall actually carry international brands like Zara and H&M. Luckily the toilets were very much better!
Before we knew it, we were on the bus to Suzhou 苏州. Frankly speaking, Suzhou 苏州 proved to be very different from what I thought it would look like. In fact, all the cities I’ve visited on this trip is pretty different from my imagination.
“Marco Polo once declared that Suzhou 苏州 was one of the most beautiful cities in China. While Polo’s Suzhou 苏州 was a charming merchant town of whitewashed houses, tree-lined canals and sumptuous gardens, modern Suzhou 苏州 is a bustling city surrounded by factories and high rises. It takes some work to find the charm under the city’s glossy veneer, but it’s there. ” – Lonely Planet
Suzhou 苏州 is indeed modern and even resembles the streets of Singapore to a certain extent. In fact, there’s a piece of land over there that makes up the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park 中国—新加坡苏州工业园区. Speaking of which, these facts were fed to us by our local guide of Suzhou 苏州. At every city, besides the regular guide xiao zhu （小朱 – 全陪）, there was also 1x local guide (地陪）.
We reached Suzhou 苏州 in the evening and the skies were turning dark already. We rushed to visit the Lion Forest Garden 狮子林 and hear corny jokes from our local guide. He was highly entertaining yet informative.
This are the Jiangnan 江南 sights i’ve been waiting to see and though this tour was brief, but it was enjoyable.
Night came too fast and before we knew it, there wasn’t sufficient lighting at all for any pictures. The coldness of the night seeped into the attraction and we were ushered out pretty fast.
We hopped onto these boats and a lady rowed the boat on the small canals sending us back to the entrance. She even sang for us on the boat!
Miraculously, when we alighted from the boat, there was a store selling hats, scarfs and gloves! Anthony and I got a pair each!
Everytime before we know it, it’s time to eat again! :X
Meet Yvonne and Glen!
What awaited us after dinner was a trip down to Zhou Water Village 周庄. This is probably one of the best parts of this tour! Going past the water canals and enjoying the picturesque structures. Suzhou used to be a water town with far from few roads. People had to get around in boats hence it was compared to being the Venice of the East.
I’m sure if it wasn’t freezing cold I would like to stand outside and marvel at the lighting and sights infront of my very own eyes.
SINGAPORE!!! Y U NO HAVE SUCH NAISE PLACES?
Suzhou 苏州 Hotel – Suzhou Golden Dynasty Hotel 金色皇朝大酒店
In the itinerary for this tour, we always knew that there was 1 optional tour that cost SGD $80/pax. It was later increased to SGD $100/pax with an extra acrobats performance thrown in. I later realized that a couple of the places in this optional tour are merely shopping areas. I wonder what if any passengers from the tour had opted out from this optional tour, would they drop off those who don’t want the tour back at the hotel first? But everyone usually heads to drop off our baggage at the hotel before heading out… I guess they are pretty confident that everyone would take up the package. Frankly, out of the 5-6 things promised on the optional tour, probably only 2 things are worthwhile. So if you ever take up such deals, check if the attractions/areas they’re bringing you to are worthwhile. If they are merely shopping malls/areas then I suggest you do not take it up. The following is an example of an area promised in the optional tour. It was quite boring because due to winter, many shops are closed and it’s simply too cold to walk comfortably in the streets:
Guanqian Street 观前街
“Lying in the downtown core of Suzhou, the main theme of the street involves eating, shopping and entertaining. There are hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars, stores and clubs in old fashioned structures surrounded by colorful signs and neon lights along the street.” – jiangsu.net
Ant and I gave up shopping for stuffs for ourselves and bought snacks instead. I can’t quite remember what the above is called, but it has a pretty unique taste to it, a little bit sour and a whole lot of sweetness.
That marked the end of our Day 2! On Day 3, we headed to Wuxi 无锡 for some fun. I have heard of this city before but I have never got to know what could be so unique about her. In Wuxi 无锡, we were brought to visit Three Kingdoms City 无锡三国城 as well as Purple Sand Teapot Museum 紫砂壶博物馆!