Cruised down to Suzhou, the venice of the east. Took a student of mine down for some company and to help translate. On the first day we cruised round town looking at some temples, and just our luck for the 3 days we would be here it would be raining, and the one we left on in the morning would be sunshine round. We were aproached by a man with a pamplet when we were in the centre, “watch, you like watch, jacket, jacket you want jacket. I got jacket and watch, LV, guuchi, you like, you like? i got all, come come, see watch, see bag, i got i got” this carried on for about 5 minutes and was so funny i couldn’t resist going along. We walked into an average looking toy shop which had all this cheap as stuff with an old lasy behind the cashier who then started shouting up the stairs. Guy walked up and signalled us to follow. first floor was huge and full of jackets, all fake as michael jacksons face. next floor was full of designer bags, and the last was a whole floor for the ‘watch, rolex we got rolex, you like rolex, very fashion, look good very fashion, you want?’ on the wall they had photos of all the other foreigners who got ripped off being amazed at all this lol. Found a japanese restaurant and had dinner there and finally got some decent beer after 3 months of drinking this watered down horrid stuff. First sip of that asahi is in the top 3 moments of china so far along with huang-shan and shanghai skyline views.
Next day we cruised over to tongli the small village that all the houses pretty much sit on the canal. very cool place, bought a few embroided posters from this old lady who we bargained down over 50%, always good to have a translator with you at markets haha. nothing amazing happened but the sweetest looking village i’ve seen. i find it funny how the touristy section of the village is emaculate and you walk two alley ways into where people still live and it’s the usual dirty china with old people playing mahjong.
On the third day we caught the bus up to tiger hill where the ‘leaning tower of china’ is. sweet walk around and nice views from the top of the hill. the rest of the day we cruised to some of the famous gardens, which when you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. an also pan men gate which is the fortress of suzhou to protect the wu/wo (all the same stuff with like 10000 dynasties in chinese history, yet chinese students are forced to memorize all of them lol) dynasty. pretty sweet pagodas and castle type buildings. Met up with my german friend who also came down for the weekend this night and had a few beers so successful suzhou trip overall.
Suzhou is so traditional looking even kfc and mc’donalds have tiled roofs.
Foreigner, walking into teach a 1-1 seeing the depressed child staring at her book, couldn’t imagine what he was about to hear, and then to realise that this isn’t an odd lifestyle, nor helped by any part of the community. With an overall view that teachers shouldn’t worry about the welfare of fellow students as that wouldn’t be professional.
First 15 minutes of questions were muffled by her turning away to look at the ground. No reaction and barely any human resemblance apart from the constant fidgiting of hoody strings or the replacement of her books, he began to asked what the matter was. Her spare time (chose ‘spare’ as one cannot compare this time to ‘free’ at all) consists of 15 minutes of computer time a day, enough to finish 1 movie a week, nothing more. Eyes and soul drained from endless hours infront of study time, waking up to another day of 10 hours at school, returning home and forced to bare the burden of 5 hours of homework and another grueling couple for study, finding 15 minutes of comfort in spells and magic in a fantasy land, a 13 year old girl who just started to watch the harry potter series.
Dad a government official, when mentioned it was met with clenched fists and the tone of vengeance, “that man always stinks of alcohol, everynight he goes to the bbq with friends, drinks, drives, passes out.” He doesn’t eat at home and the relationship with his one and only gift is similar to that of a dictator. The mother is the head of nurses committee at a hospital often won’t be at home either. If she were it would mean the child wouldn’t have to eat instant noodles for dinner… everynight.
Do you get any pocket money? “they give me about $3 a week,” from parents who would be very rich even compared to families in NZ. So what do you spend that on? “like things I need. Water.”
Next day we ventured up the mountain, climbing for 9 hours, up and down thousands of stairs, nearly vertical paths with no railings, falling would mean certain death, yet what pwnage views we all saw. the paths have been expanding since the chinese started building them about 1500years ago, all by hand. every few minutes we would see a man with 2 huge blocks of concrete/cement/buckets of water/food/whatever they needed hanging off a pole along their neck. some of the oldest people i’ve seen carrying 50kg+. there was also an option for people to get carried by two men around the mountain on a thronelike chair.. wtf? crazy day and ended up not being able to walk normally for the next few days.
So, cruised down to Huang-shan (yellow mountain) at the beginning of the month with my school. the first day we went to a lake down near the bottom of the mountain range and chilled out there for a couple of hours. had a zipline ride for my first time, not the most exciting thing but still pretty sweet, there isnt any breaks on it just two guys at the end who tackle you when you come zooming in. awesome chinglish signs all over the place.