Friday May 20, 2016

I’m getting behind. Again. As usual. It always happens when we’re on tour. I get too busy sightseeing, too distracted having fun, too bone-tired to stay up at night tapping words into my laptop when everyone else is snoring in bed. And, before you know it, I forget to keep this travel-diary up-to-date. I skip a day … then skip another … and now look at the mess I’m in: scratching around on Friday trying to recall what happened on Monday!

It’s not entirely my fault, I hasten to say. Internet connections (especially where we are now, on the Yangtze River, in the middle of deepest, darkest China) have proved notoriously unreliable. Anyway, the point is: I need to catch up. So how about I just tell you, briefly, what we did four days ago – and let the photos speak for themselves.

Is that okay? Okay.

Well, despite flying from Guilin to Shanghai on Sunday night, and getting to our hotel close to midnight, we still had an early start on Monday. (Being a tourist, you see, is tougher than you might think!) We gobbled our breakfast and rushed by coach to one of three huge train stations in Shanghai. (When you’ve got 23 million people in a city, you need more than one train station!) There we caught a bullet train, and sped (at 250 kph) past forests of high-rise apartment blocks to Suzhou – a ‘small’ city of merely 13 million, very old, and famous for its scenic beauty. A Chinese proverb says “In heaven there is paradise; on earth there is Suzhou!”

To cut a longish story shortish, we got all botanical – enjoying a leisurely wander through the Garden of Master of Nets … then did the same thing in the Garden of the Humble Administrator … then spent an hour or two strolling crowded footpaths along one of the ancient canals that crisscross Suzhou – before heading back by coach to Shanghai, where they’d turned the lights on, just for us. But more of that in my next blog …

STILL TO COME: China’s largest and most prosperous city, Shanghai, truly popped our corks … and it’ll pop yours, too. So don’t go away …

PEOPLE-NEWS: Four more ever-popular Yellow Ducks have quacked their way into new homes and hearts …

  • Catherine claimed our ‘Cereal Crime’ Award at breakfast yesterday – but it’s a little complicated. Tony, you see, had left his plate containing cornflakes on the counter while he went looking for toast. Then Catherine came along and started helping herself to Tony’s cornflakes, complaining to those around her: “I can’t believe how small the containers are they put their cereal in! They must have to keep refilling them all the time …”
  • John S earned himself our ‘Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave’ Award for getting his ship lanyard hopelessly knotted with his camera strap and raincoat, holding up the queue for just on 45 minutes.
  • Grant took away our ‘Abandon Ship’ Award when, following an excursion up a beautiful river-valley, he (and Catherine) got onto the wrong ferry-boat for the ride home.
  • Colleen received our ‘Smash & Grab’ Award – for grabbing me when we were in a Chinese ‘hanging coffins’ museum, and causing me to whack my head on a plate-glass window whilst attempting to inspect some human skulls. (I’ll probably live, but it’ll be a slow recovery.)

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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