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Anita and Bernie’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 02 Sep 2007

Location: China

MapGreetings from Suzhou, via Wuxi in the Jiang Su province!
After a very early morning call - 5.30 - we caught the 08:11 train to Wuxi (pronounced wooshi), traavelling on one of the older-style trains. Older? each set has arms, carriages spotlessly clean, no grafitti, courteous staff and friendly, if curious, Chinese passengers: europeans are known here as 'darbies', which means 'big nose', a friendly term, because they call themselves 'flat noses'. Is this the origin of 'Darby and Jones'? The train left on time and arrived on time! The trackside is immaculately manicured by teams of workers. We passed through field after field of rice paddies.
At Wuxi, we toured what must have been an idyllic retreat of a 'private' garden, visited several times by an emperor, meanwhile, outside, there was the bustle of a busy street of small shops and hundreds of bicycles and scooters lined up on either side of the road. The streets of Wuxi, like the streets of Nanjing are lined with trees to shade to shoppers.
We took a river boat down the Grand Canal for the 60 km to Suzhou. The canal is heavily used by barges of frightening size and loading. They do have Plimsoll lines on them, but they are 2 feet under the water!
Suzhou - 'Place of fish and rice' - is an eastern Venice, it has many canals.
Tomorrow, more gardens and a silk factory, where we will have lunch. We are told that a by-product of silk making is that you can eat the silk pupae - very tasty with ginger & garlic!!??