10:00 AM – Driver takes us to Tiger Hill in Suzhou
Tiger Hill is a hill in Suzhou, China and it was named this because it looks like a crouching tiger. When we arrived at Tiger Hill, the first thing I noticed was the Yunyan Pagoda. The pagoda was constructed during the later period of the Five Dynasties. At seven stories tall, it has started to lean to one side. At the time there were a lot of traditional Chinese performances for tourists going on at Tiger Hill. Most notably we saw Chinese girls dressed up in traditional clothing dancing to traditional Chinese music. There were also a number of historical spring wells that were marked from periods dating back to 900AD. We saw the "third" most famous spring said to have one of the best and cleanest water at the time. However, now it is just still water with lots of algae.
One thing I noticed while is Suzhou is that the car license plates show the providence plus A,B,C,D,E, which supposedly represents various levels. For example, A would be the capital. In any event, I digress. Tiger Hill had a garden of bonsai trees that looked amazing. I'm pretty sure these trees were pretty old. Suzhou is actually known for their embroideries and wedding dresses. Supposedly the emperor's clothes were made in Suzhou.
12:00 PM - Lunch at the Zen Chinese Cuisine
Surprisingly eating out in China is not overly expensive at least in the less industrialized areas. For example, for we ordered dim sum for three people at a relatively decent restaurant (comparable to a poor man's PF Chang's) and the total only came out to be 200 RMB, which is about $32 USD. However, the wages at the manufacturing plants are significantly less than what the minimum wage is in the States. For example, our driver makes about 20,000 RMB a year, which is about $3,000 USD. Only executives and management level individuals typically eat out.
1:00 PM – Drive to Humble Administrator's Garden
After lunch, our driver took us to Humble Administrator's Garden, which was nearby Tiger Hill. In fact, from the garden itself, you can see the North Temple Pagoda in the distance. But the garden was said to have been designed to create the optical illusion as if the Temple was a part of the garden itself. There were some ducks and we saw a bunch of lotus plants in the pond. Unfortunately, due to the season (we went in October), the lotus plants were withering.
4:00PM – Walk to the Suzhou Museum and Taoist Temple
Nearby the Humble Administrator's Garden, we entered the Suzhou Museum. This evidently was a more modern establishment with metal detectors and such. We saw a lot of old things and stuff that you would normally see in a Chinese section of a museum in the States or in Europe. Afterwards, we went to a downtown shopping area where there was also a Taoist temple. A street vendor was selling duck tongue. We bought a couple of these and they were okay. I've had duck before, so I wasn't that taken aback. We then walked around the shopping plaza looking at different products such as baby products. In China, because of the one child policy, they want to give their children the best. Therefore, often times they are willing to pay top dollar for good baby products.
7:00PM – Dinner and then retire for the night
We ended up eating at a restaurant that served rabbit foot and had some other Chinese dishes. Nothing else that I had never seen before or was taken aback by. After dinner we went back to the condo, got ready for bed, and crashed.
My First Experience in China - People's Republic of China - Day 0/1