Shanghai- the second day

This morning it is raining, not sprinkling but really raining. We are scheduled to go to a city of merely 12 million people, Suzhou. We almost back out, but grab our umbrellas and shoes that can take the water and join the bus with the other hardy travelers for our 2 and 1/2 hour ride out of town. AS a full blown working day begins, the traffic is amazing. Horns blow continuously as traffic crams together. Somehow we make forward progress. On the side of the road is a lane, often separated by barriers and suspended flower baskets, which is for scooters and bicyclists. The scooters are the workhorses of the people and they ride them rain or shine. Some have three people on one scooter. We see them loaded impossibly with all manner of loads. Rolls of carpet, pieces of furniture, flowers, all are loaded onto the scooter and off they go through the traffic. Many of the scooters are electric battery driven so they make no sound to warn you of their approach. Children and dogs are also transported this way. How some are not hurt I will never know. They won’t be killed because the traffic is so slow. Suzhhou is old. Sixth century old. It was at one time a fishing village. Around 480 BC China’s emperor decided to build the Grand Canal to link Shanghai and what is now Beijing for trading purposes. Suzhou was one of the stops along the way. Still to date this canal is the world’s largest man made waterway. Locks were added in 984 AD. Suzhou became a network of canals much the way Venice evolved. With the canal open, Suzhou could export its most famous product, silk.
When we arrive, the weather has improved. The sun can occasionally be seen. We take a boat ride on the canal. It was not James’ favorite thing to do. The canal is also used to wash clothes as well as refuse disposal. It doesn’t, however, deter the brides that we pass from having their photos done in their red dresses. The next stop is the Suzhou silk Embroidery Research Institue. Wow, was this interesting! Threads thinner than a human hair being sewn by ladies with 25 years experience onto extremely thin silk fabric. Wispy feathers and fins so delicately sewn with no knots are to be seen. Seemingly with magic, they could create a two sided work with one color on one side and a different color on the opposite side.
We next visit a garden created by a very successful fisherman/businessman. It was very impressive but not as much as the garden we visited in Shanghai. The return traffic was worse than that this morning. We keep looking at our watches as we must get dressed for dinner before meeting our driver to take us to the the famous restaurant on the Bund. We finally arrive back at the ship with just 40 minutes to clean up and dress for this fancy place. Fog is settling in again as we arrive back at the ship. You can barely see across the river which is unfortunate as the restaurant is well located on the Bund with a great view of the skyline across the river. James and I don our western dress up clothes and head out to the M on the Bund.
We dine on conventional food which we are accustomed to in the West. I have twice cooked pigeon and their speciality, a leg of lamb encased in salt and preserved lemons with anchovies. It sounds awful but it was excellant. James had suckling duck. Dessert was a combonation of bite size gran marnier souffle and their famous pavolovia. These folks can do dessert!!