Grand Tour of China; Part 6. Wuhan and Suzhou

Tuesday 17th

We spent last night in the super luxurious Marco Polo Hotel on Wuhan’s waterfront. We arrived around 7:30 and our meal was included at the restaurant buffet. Sometimes I roll my eyes when I hear about hotel buffets, but my word, not this one! The selection of food was tremendous! It had a huge sushi collection and I could have, and probably would have, feasted all night solely on this had it not been for the tempting noodle bar serving fresh local “Wuhan style” noodles. I won’t tell you how many times Keith and I went up to this! 🐷Wuhan style noodles are dryer than the others with no soup, just pickles and a slight dollop of something chilli- like on top. A great technical description there 😂Sorry – no photos either, we were too busy slurping!

After dinner we had a quick stroll down the waterfront, which reminded me of the South Bank in London.

It’s obviously a very trendy spot, youngsters were roller skating around and chilling, there were some buggies with neon lights being rented and couples courting. Across the water the skyline was lit up and lights were flashing. It had a great vibe and many on our tour said they could have happily stayed a few nights there. I think tourism in Wuhan is on the increase though – even Teresa May came to visit earlier this year!

We were off to the Yellow Crane Tower this morning, which is the third greatest tower in China. There has been a tower on that site for 1300 years but over the years it’s been on the receiving end of several battles and therefore has been rebuilt several times. Geographically, Wuhan is an important location as has two rivers that join into one. The views from the top of the tower were fabulous. Inside there was some fascinating art work and poetry.

On the route to the Yellow Crane Tower, Jennifer, our new local guide gave us a fascinating insight into life as a married lady over the years in China. The mother in law features a lot! 😂 Listening to her commentary, despite her flawless English, I suddenly felt a long way from home, and thankful to live somewhere that respect equal rights and freedom of speech.

After lunch, we were taken to a local supermarket, similar in size to Cite Europe in Calais. We had a 5 hour train journey to Suzhou and we were encouraged to buy train picnics as our arrival time at the hotel would be after 9pm.

I find foreign supermarkets fascinating and clearly this was no exception! Keith and I chose two massive tubs of noodles similar to pot noodles but much better – for 50p each. Perfect!

The remainder of our day was spent travelling on the train – snoozing, reading, eating and catching up on blog writing.

Wednesday

After our late arrival we were given a slight lay in- we had a gentler day scheduled today.

Suzhou is known as China’s Garden City. We are right on the outskirts now of Shanghai but the pace is here much slower and the city is surrounded by lots of canals, not too dissimilar to Venice.

Our day started with a rickshaw ride from the hotel around the older streets of Suzhou.

We made a stop at a very local food market and enjoyed watching the locals shop for fresh fruit, veg and meat.

Then we were back on the rickshaws to our next destination, UNESCO site The Master of Nets Garden. This is a traditional Chinese garden, and what was fascinating was that it’s 2000 years old.

^ this guy was having a sing song as he was walking around – such a lovely moment ^

^ original flooring ^

Despite being busy, it had such a relaxing and serene vibe. We enjoyed some traditional tea in the courtyard amongst the bonsai trees towards the end of our visit. We really enjoyed our visit.

After this we visited a silk museum. We got to see the whole process from Silk Worm to product and actually there was no hard selling and the visit was hugely interesting. We avoided buying some silk bed sheets but I did have a go at hand stretching some silk to make up 1000 layers that is needed to make a duvet.

After lunch we had a canal boat ride along some of the tiny canals which have houses backing onto them.

Some of these streets were over 1000 years old and it was a great way to see locals going about their daily business- for example, this guy washing his hair!

These two were in their traditional red wedding outfits having ore wedding photos

We had an early finish today and were back to the hotel for 4pm so we took advantage of the lovely pool area and I even had a sauna. We enjoyed a beer across the road at the local bar before opting for a pizza in the hotel bar for tea.

Keith hi jacked the hotel grand piano to play some relaxing cocktail music which was lovely to see. And we enjoyed a bottle of Italian red wine- something that we’ve been missing!

Tomorrow we leave Suzhou for our last stop of the tour before home- Shanghai. We really loved visiting Suzhou today and feel we have seen the real traditional China today. We’ve loved seeing the locals going about their daily life- a simple “Knee how” (hello) and they wave like mad and smile cheerily at us!

Until next time

Lx

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