Huadong ( Eastern China ) Tour Experience
( Shanghai - Wuxi - Suzhou - Hangzhou )
( Shanghai - Wuxi - Suzhou - Hangzhou )
It is already a couple of weeks that we are back from our marvelous tour to Huadong ( Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou, Hangzhou), east China. So it is time to send a few lines to you. First of all we want to thank you for the excellent organisation of our tour. Practically everything worked out very well. We were very well and punctually received and taken care of by the guides and drivers at the various destinations.So we could enjoy the tour. As promised, I now write my travel experience about the three full scheduled tours of Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou.
Day 01( April 03) Shanghai and Wuxi09:55-11:55 Take flight from Beijing to Shanghai
When we went out, timely received by Ms.Wendy Wang, our local or Huadong guide for the three day tours. She proved to be helpful and resourceful.
We told Ms. Wendy to catch up time and go to Yu Garden directly. The drive took a longer time due to the terrible Shanghai traffic that day. The guide said that there were some big conferences being held in Shanghai.
14:20-16:20 We at last got to the Yu Garden through the mad dash to streets of Shanghai. The tour guide told us we were in heavy traffic and warned us to keep from motorcycles, cars and bikes, even pickpockets! The Yu Garden and the Bazaar are actualy a Chinatown set up for the tourists. It was really crowded and we had to follow our guide closely.
It is a nice place, covered with typical chinese architecture, with lots of stores, bars and restaurants, gathering chinese and foreign tourists. To discover findings in the shops can be funny. In its middle, you find Yu Yuan ( Yu Garden ), a calm chinese garden where you can disconnect from the crazy town outside and have some peace. Yu Garden is pretty but also very crowded. Yuyuan Bazaar where you can find all the Shanghainese hawker food. Just pick those you want to taste from the counter & pay at the cashier. Savour all the local delicacies to your heart's content.
Yu Yuan Bazaar
15:00-17:00 The Bund
The Bund, also called the Zhongshan Road, is in fact the waterfront area - east edge of Pu Xi (West City) that confronts the newer development zone of Shanghai - Pu Dong (East City). The Bund has been considered as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It is less than one mile in length,a popular desitnation for tourists. It is said that walking along the Bund at night is a fascinating site, as the entire Pudong skyline (across the river) is illuminated, including the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the 2nd tallest building in the world - Jin Mao Tower. But it was a pity that we had to leave Shanghai in the evening for Wuxi. And directly across Zhongshan Road ( the Bund ), you will see many different types of structures from Old Shanghai, including: Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and Renaissance.
17:00-18:40 Shanghai to Wuxi by car
The drive from Shanghai to Wuxi was quite smooth. Very good highway with normal traffic.
18:40-19:40 Dinner at Hubin Hotel ( where we stayed for the night )
We liked the food that night. Fresh water small fish, delicious vegetables and nice noodles. It was a hotel near the Taihu Lake. It used to be a guesthouse, now open to the public, a 4 star hotel. At night it was very quite, a little far from the city center. Dog-tired, we went to bed early to recharge for tomorrow.
Day 02 ( April 04 ) Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou7:40-8:40 Wuxi Breakfast Hubin Hotel
After nice buffet breakfast, we started our half day tour in Wuxi. We had our local tour guide in Wuxi - Kathy Li. She taught us some words in her native Wuxi dialect. The word for duck is pretty fun.
We first went to Li Garden, not far from our hotel. Originally it was Fanli's residence and back garden. It is on the shore of Taihu Lake. The garden is actually a blend of artificial bridges and pagodas scattered around small fishponds. We were on the right time. Green trees and flowers are all where! In the garden, we found more local domestic tourists than foreign visitors like us. Maybe Wuxi is not so famous as Suzhou and Shanghai, fewer international tourists.
we travelled Taihu Lake (or Lake Tai). It is the third largest freshwater lake in China. It has an area of 2250 square kilometres and as deep as 2 metres. About 90 islets, big or small, and with many fleets of fishing junk boats dotted makes the landscape even more attractive. It was a shame we had no time for boating on the lake.
11:00-12:00 visit Wuxi Pearl Store
Wuxi apparently produces a lot of fresh water pearls. So of course the tour loved to take us to a pearl store. Freshwater Pearl is a kind of cultivated pearl with nucleus with various shapes, but the perfect round is especially rare. The common sizes are between 3-12mm. I bought two pairs of necklaces for my two daughers.
12:00-13:30 Lunch at Wuxi and drive to Suzhou
After simple lunch, we drove to Suzhou. It took only half hour's drive from Wuxi to Suzhou. Wuxi and Suzhou are quite similar in landscape and lifestyle. But apparently, Suzhou is mch more famous due to its gardens listed as World Heritage. Suzhou is a city nicknamed as " Venice" in the east, full of bridges, rivers gardens. The most important is the Grand Canal passing through the city. Suzhou and Hangzhou are said to be so beautiful they are called two heavens on earth.
13:00-13:40 Hanshan Buddhist Temple
Apparently, this temple is really famous. We were at the Hanshan Temple. We took a picture. Hanshan Temple is situated in the town of Fengqiao (Maple Bridge) in the west suburbs of Suzhou, only one kilometer west of the Lingering Garden. It was first constructed in the Liang Dynasty (502-557). During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a famous monk called Hanshan lived in the temple. the temple was later renamed after his name.
Hanshan Buddhist Temple
13:40-14:20 Suzhou canals
Suzhou is supposed to be the Venice of the east. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to see much of it. It is an improtant art of the Grand Canal starting from Beijing to Hangzhou. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is one of the greatest ancient projects in China and is the longest man-made canal in world. It covers a total length of 1,794 kilometers, and meets five rivers of the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe, Haihe, and Qiantang rivers. It winds through Beijing, Tianjing, Hebei province, Shandong Province, Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang Province with Hangzhou at its southernmost end.
14:20-15:40 Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden (Zhouzheng Yuan) is the biggest garden in Suzhou. It is loacted in the northeastern part of the city, and one of the four most famous classical gardens in China. The garden's scenery is centered on a pond with various structures of pavilions, terraces, chambers, and towers etc. The garden is a presentation of Chinese classical gardens in the Ming Dynasty. It was first built in 1513 by the official, Wang Xiancheng after his retirement from official life. He gave the name to the garden after an essay by Pan Yue of Jing Era --"On Idle Living- "Setting up a house and planting some trees, grew a garden and planted some vegetables are the things of humble people." It is divided into three parts; the eastern, middle and the western parts. The house lies in the south of the garden.
Humble Administrator's Garden
15:40-16:40 Suzhou Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill Park is one of Suzhou's famous site. Tiger Hill (Huqiu) is the resting place of the ruler of ancient Suzhou, He Lu. The area got its name- Tiger Hill linnked to a tiger which was found lying on He Lu's tomb. One of Tiger Hill's most famous attractions is Sword Pond (Jianchi). He Lu was a noted warrior and. The Sword Pond is said to house He Lu's treasured swords in the water. Tiger Hill also holds the Yunyan Pagoda, that has been leaning since long time ago. Today this pagoda has become a landmark of Suzhou.
Suzhou Tiger Hill
16:40-17:40 Suzhou Kaidi Silk Factory
Just as Wuxi is famous for pearls, Suzhou is well known for silk production. After a while, we learned that if a place is famous for some product, we would be arranged to visit its factory for "educational" information. And if we were to buy something then that was a bonus for them. The demonstration of how silk is made was actually pretty interesting. The silk blankets they sold were also pretty nice if we were in the market for that sort of thing. The silk clothing and other articles were not pretty, though. To make silk blankets, several women pull the silk into large sheets which get layered together. The blankets are sold in different sizes and different weights. We did buy something, silk blouses and two ties.
Suzhou Kaidi Silk Factory
18:00-17:40 Drive to Hangzhou
We said goodbye to Ms. Kathy Li and tipped her. Tipping is quite popular in China. Every tour guide expects tipping.
19:40-20:45 Dinner at a nice restaurant in Hangzhou
Dinner wasn't great. However, the restaurant was also hosting a wedding, so that was fun to watch. Hangzhou is known as the other heaven on earth. We had a new guide - Mr. Karlvin Zhang. He said the spring time saw many people honeymoon in Hangzhou. We stayed at Xinqiao Hotel, a 4 star hotel, just a few steps away from the famous West Lake. Hotel was okay. Free wifi!
Day 9 Hangzhou, West Lake, General Yue Fei, Lingyin Temple, Huangshan
8:30-9:25 Cruise on West Lake
The day was very clear. The lake didn't seem very special to me. But the lake and the surrounding park was probably an oasis for the city dwellers. West Lake is located to the west of Hangzhou, hence the name of "West Lake". It is said that there are totally 36 "West Lakes" in China, the West Lake in Hangzhou is the most beautiful of 36 west lakes of the same name.
10:15-11:25 Tea Plantation
The drive to the tea plantation was very beautiful. Too bad we didn't stop along the way. There were some pretty pictures to be taken. Once the new young leaves are picked from the tea plants, the leaves are heated in a large wok-like device and tossed by hand.
Hangzhou is famous for Dragonwell Green Tea. It was interesting to experience that different parts of China drink very different variety of teas. In Hangzhou, good dried green tea smells like spinach. Once brewed, the leaves are very fresh-looking and are eaten. Very different when you are used to oolong tea.
11:25-12:30 Mausoleum of General Yue Fei
This picture depicts the legend of his famous tattoo. Before going off to join the army, his mother tatooed 4 characters onto his back, "diligence, loyalty, service, country", as a constant reminder to "serve the country loyally". The tour guide said that each day lots of Chinese visitors and even some foriegn tourists flock to the temple and tomb for paying their respect. Yue Fei (1103-1142) was born in Tangyin of Xiangzhou (in today's Henan Province). He was a famous national hero during the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). he became noted for his bravery and talent against against northern invaders. He was later betrayed by a court official, Qin Hui and wrongly executed. In 1163 his reputation was recovered and his body dug up and reburied at this Mausoleum.
Mausoleum of General Yue Fei
12:30-13:30 Lunch at a famous restaurant called "Tianwaitian" Restaurant
The lunch was great! Many local flavors. Next to the restaurant is the well known temple - Linying Temple.
13:30-14:50 Linying Temple
The Lingyin (Souls Retreat) Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist Temples in China. It was constructed in 326 at the foot of Lingyin Mountain by an Indian monk named Huili with a history of more than 1,600 years. The temple has the Front Hall, the magnificent Hall and the Hall of Herb Masters. China’s largest wood-carving of sitting Buddha Sakyamuni sits in the Magnificent Hall.
Of the many Buddhist temples we visited, this one was my favorite. On the walk to the temple, we saw a laughing buddah. At the temple, there was one very impressively large Buddha. It was the largest Buddha I have ever seen. We saw a lot of Buddhas on the trip so I feel like I'm almost an authority. Since it is said to be the largest in the world, it is probably the largest I will ever see.
15:50-16:30 Drive to Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport for departure for Hong Kong
My god! The unforgettable three days tour of east China! Arrived at the airport just in time and flew for Hong Kong.
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