This morning we said goodbye to my Mom as she continued on her tour of China. The tour tries to insulate them from the small tourist shopping opportunities and all of the people that would be asking them questions. When she was alone with Sophie and I yesterday she got a taste of what we have been experiencing - people getting right up in our faces and asking many questions about us and of course why we have Sophie! She was a bit uncomfortable with it as the idea of personal space doesn't really exist in China. If you are looking for a bill in your wallet for instance, people are happy to look in your wallet with you just be be helpful :)
Today had a wonderful sleep-in, in our quiet, dark hotel room - quite a switch from our apartment in Hangzhou where construction starts around 5:30am!
Our goal this morning was to go the Humble Administrator's Garden, roughly 5 hectares in size with beautiful canals, ponds, and vegetation. Suzhou is known for its gardens, so we wanted to see more of them. Peter particularly enjoyed the Banzai tree collection.
On the way there we were accosted by a woman who wanted to sell us a ride on one of the canals. We talked her down to 150 quai for the 5 of us which was still probably a rip-off for a 40 minute ride, but it sure was nice!
We rode on a boat similar to this one...
Some pictures in the canal.
Some of the little residences next to the canal. All of their gray water comes out into the canal from their drains. The kids really wanted to know about the "black water" and where does it go? Not the canal, it was too clean.
More canal scenes...
Of course Sophie enjoyed being on the boat!
There were many residences and side streets with steps down to the canal for boating or doing washing.
... and so did the boys!
Peter finally lost one of his "eye" teeth a few weeks ago so he has a nice gap in his smile!
This jovial guy loved waving at the strange Americans floating by. He had less teeth than Peter does.
Our driver sang us Chinese songs as we floated through the canal.
... Sue listened intently to the boatman's songs which were really lovely.
His songs even quieted down Sophie! Music soothes the savage beast!
Next it was onto the Administrator's Garden.
Jack found a rock formation to stick his head through. "Take a picture, Dad!"
Jack and Peter both loved the Humble Administrator's Garden, however it was stressful to follow Sophie around. None of the bridges over the water features had any railings or walls, so we had to be on top of her constantly.
Many of the walkways were constructed of carefully laid rock patterns. We decided to see what it felt like without shoes. Bumpy!
As I write this we are on a very crowded train back to Hangzhou. It stops in Shanghai which makes it a very popular route. We are anxious to get off but we have another 2 hours to go. Don't worry, by the time you read this we'll be snug in our beds back in Hangzhou!
Sophie has more mysterious spots on her face and ears. She slept in a different room with Sue last night, and she heard mosquitos so perhaps that is what it was, however no one else was bitten. Maybe they just like Chinese people. They are not on any other parts of her body except perhaps one on her hand. Sue will try to find a doctor tomorrow to determine what they could be.