Day 18

Has it really just been 18 days since I left home? It somehow feels a lot longer, probably because I’ve been to so many places in the last few days.

So what have I been doing? Well after spending about a week at my aunt’s place, my father, my mother, my grandfather and my aunt boarded a plane to Shanghai for a 10 day tour of China’s most famous cities.

Currently we are on day 5 and we’ve already been to 5 cities. Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing and Suzhou, all of which are beautiful cities.

Before this I’ve never been to any cities in central or northern China so it has definitely been interesting to see how it differs from the South. The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far? The cuisine.

In a typical meal, people in the north eat a bigger grained rice, but the vegetables are much smaller. They like to cut then up, whereas in the south I noticed they like to leave veggies whole with stem and leaves together. There are also a lot more pickled and radish things up north. Meat wise, things don’t look too different, but I can’t really comment since I don’t eat much meat anymore. I have noticed however that some places really like fish, and other places like Nanjing really love duck. Fortunately for me there has been some type of tofu dish everywhere we went.

So what are the cities like?

Shanghai is an interesting blend of new and old. The juxstaposition is actually quite beautiful. I’ll never forget the moment our plane flew directly above all of the skyrise buildings. One of them actually peeked out of the clouds into the sky.

Hangzhou is a very serene place. It’s known for it’s beautiful trees and scenery. I get the feeling that everyone there prefers a slower, quieter lifestyle. It is also home to a lot of poets and scholars from ancient history.

The third city we went to is Wuxi. Wuxi has a lot of beautiful lakes, one of which is Taihu, and Taihu produces some of the world’s most beautiful pearls.

Next was Nanjing. This is a very historical place in Chinese history. Once invaded by the Japanese leading to the atrocities known as the Nanjing massacre. However today it is a thriving city rich on history, and one that really loves duck. In my one day there I’ve seen signs for duck noodles, duck feet, roast duck, duck eggs and duck buns. Curiously, someone also pointed out a shop that sells donkey pancakes. Not sure if he was kidding though.

Then finally today we arrived at Suzhou. Suzhou is beautiful. It is a water city much like Venice with houses built next to rivers amd streams. It also features many beautiful gardens which I love to look at. Definitely a nature lover kind of place.

Keep in mind please everybody that I’ve only spent one day in each of these cities so what I’ve seen are probably very narrow views of the places. However I’m very happy to say I now have a much better understanding of China than I ever did before. I’m getting to practice my Chinese a lot more, and I am picking up a lot of new words. I definitely want to continue to get even better.

As for the tour itself, some of you may be wondering how it is. Well if you know anything about tour guides, especially the ones in China, they’re notorious for pressuring their clients to shop. Is that true?

Yes. So far shopping has been about 40% of our tour. Some of the things they sell us are complete rubbish and some are actually good products but are higly overpriced. I have more to say about tthis, but I’ll save it for another post.

Time for pictures!

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