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John and Dean's China adventure

The Forbidden City

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We wanted to get to the Forbidden City early, before all the tourist showed up.
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Somebody's alarm clock went off pretty early. There were a lot of people there by the time we arrived. Our guide said that this was nothing compared to summer tourist season, she said you can't even move there are so many tourist.
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We made our way in and all I can say was is this place is MASSIVE, EPIC it just keeps going.
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I couldn't get over the number of Chinese tourist. They all had on matching hats and literally would run you over to see whatever it was their guide was showing them. Then run off to the next thing. We sneaked out of the crowd to a small museum on the grounds. It was the hall of Wedding relics. Interesting that the wedding theme is everywhere on this trip. Did I put a wedding picture from Beijing in here yet? Let me see if I have one...
Yep. here you go, she almost fell in the water after I took the shot.
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The museum had the coolest lamps, they had Double Happiness shades on them.
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We left the Forbidden City and crossed the street to the park next door. There was about 75 people dancing in the park.
We've seen groups of people doing Tai Chi but not dancing, they were so good. This guy got nervous when I pulled the camera out, I think he forgot the steps, I know the feeling.
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We hiked to the top of the of the hill to look back over The Forbidden City.
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Posted by JohnVosler 07:14 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Overnight to Beijing

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After a late night in Suzhou we boarded an overnight train for Beijing.

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We were a bit nervous to share the bathroom with everyone on the train but managed fine. We both settled in for the 12 hour train ride. The cabin next to us had 4 students and the other cabin had 4 chinese men... who smoked. We shut the door and never opened it again. I have to say it was extremely comfortable and the rocking of the train was very relaxing. Dean fell a sleep in about 30 seconds and I was up reading for an hour or so and then I was out. We woke up with the sunrise and very cold air. It may have been cold but it was perfectly clear and the air was clean, not at all what I had imagined. We checked into the hotel and then went off to eat, it's what we do best. Oops no photo of Dean eating. We took a ricksha to a local families house in the old part of the city, where we had a delicious lunch. P1010566.jpg We played with her dog Zie Zie and bought some of her husbands painted bottle art.

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Then off to Tiananmen Square for some site seeing.
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Tiananmen Square was an immense space. We walked and walked until we finally could see the picture of Mao.
An amazing space, almost to big to comprehend. We walked home from Tiananmen Square.
It was Halloween and a group of kids came by all dressed up. SO cute.P1010590.jpgIMG_0582.jpg
Halloween in Beijing.
By this time we needed to eat again. They had an entire street full of food vendors, I didn't think I could pull Dean away from the tripe soup, we both porked out. IMG_0584.jpg

Posted by JohnVosler 06:09 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Another rainy day in Suzhou

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It was raining again in Suzhou and I have to admit I miss the seasons. I love it when it rains. I took more pictures of the gardens in Suzhou and took a boat ride down the Suzhou river. We took a ricksha through the city and walked over the longevity bridge. We ended our visit at the Happy Hotel, looking at apartments in the city. This would be a very picturesque, charming city to live in.
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Relaxing
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Before we leave Suzhou we ran into another bride. One in every city.
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bye Suzhou.
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Posted by JohnVosler 02:01 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Arriving in Suzhou

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The train was packed from Hangzhou to Suzhou. When we got off it was raining. Our guide picked us up and took us to eat. I went to buy a map at the restaurant/hotel and the guy behind the counter was pushing condoms and sex toys. I knew that Suzhou was a romantic city but come on. We had a delicious lunch, the local dish was fried chicken but the tofu and pork were amazing to, just ask Dean.

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Our guide was very nervous because Dean had been a tour guide in China many years ago and she didn't want to disappoint us. So she just talked, talked and talked. She just wouldn't shut up, it was as if she just finished her third red bull. And when you did try to tell her something she would say "I know, I know" and then back to talking, asking us if we needed to go to the happy place. "Do you need to go to the happy place"? I finally figured out that the happy place was the toilet. THEN she kept referring to the camera and replacing the batteries as feeding the baby. "Do you need to feed the baby"? "Is the baby hungry"? "Did you feed the baby today"? After the 5th time of her asking questions about if we knew who sat hereP1010432.jpg and why didn't they sit over there Or what was this room used for or why didn't she sit over there on that chair?... I finally said I DON'T KNOW, JUST TELL ME.
No more questions. I'm not guessing anymore. I'll ask you a question if I want to know more.

What I figured out was I needed a little break from EVERYBODY!!! This had nothing to do with Linda, she was doing a good job and on any other day I probably would have been fine. But this day was a bit challenging for me, I had hit the wall with people talking at me. We drove into the city and walked around the Humble Garden, hoping for a peaceful day in the park with 10,000 other chinese tourist. Here is a picture of me forcing a smile, thinking the entire time that I just wanted to check into the hotel room and sleep. Don't worry it does get better....
nice smile right?

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After getting some sleep and having one of the best Hot Pot dinners, I had recovered. The next day I had more patience and Linda was much calmer. All was good in the world again.
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Did I mention that last night we drove through rush our traffic in the rain to see apartment buildings on the outskirts of the city so we could cross it off our list of places to live. Dean had found a Howard Johnson hotel that had service apartments in them. Needless to say they were out in bum F&^* egypt. That is a personal story I'll share when I see you. Not one to share here.
Did I mention the Lingering park was beautiful. So was the Hanshan Temple. :-)
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Suzhou is the Venice of China. You can take a gondola ride through the city.
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We went up the Grand Canal to a small shopping market, with stalls where you could buy anything. One stall after the other, selling everything from souvenirs, rice, live ducks, live fish and the stall next to it selling sweet deserts or a pig. I was going to take a picture but Dean thought it was to gross, and if Dean thinks it's gross it's disgusting.
Okay back to the gardens with John and Dean.
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We had dinner around the corner from the hotel, a local place. We sat next to a table of 10 girls celebrating two of their birthdays. They were having so much fun. Dean sent them a bottle of beer and that's all it took, we had new friends for life. They toasted us and we toasted them. Another beer another toast. The next thing you know Dean and I were on our feet singing happy birthday. Once all the hugging stopped, some longer than others, we left. Fun Night

Posted by JohnVosler 00:04 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Night out in Hangzhou

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We wanted to take our travel agent out to dinner to thank her for all her patience and hard work putting our tour together. We decided to meet her at the restaurant. Our driver spoke to her and she told him where to take us, we thought. We ended up at some traffic intersection in the north part of town. Once we stopped the driver jumped out of the car and disappeared, leaving us there on the side of the road, car idling. We waited for awhile looking out the window at the number of people walking around. It was a very busy intersection, finding her was going to be more challenging than we thought since we didn't know what she looked like and with SO many people in the street. Then out of know where this wild spiky haired crazy lady tapped on the window and motioned for us to get out of the car. A bit startled at the sight of what we thought was our travel agent we obliged. The driver reappeared just smiling and said to follow her, so we did.

She was walking so fast, about five steps ahead of us and all I kept thinking was if we lose her we could just take cab back to the hotel, right, didn't we take a left on Wenyi Rd, then a right, before we took that left after we passed kentucky fried chicken? I knew the hotel was on that street but what was the name of the street? The wild spiky haired lady kept up her fast pace, she was moving. She finally turned around and asked us where we were from. We said California and the next thing we knew she was telling us that her favorite song was Hotel California. She LOVED that song. I said to Dean, are you sure this is our agent?
Just as we were entering the restaurant Dean started to ask her who she was when everyone in the place started requesting her attention, she then started yelling at the waiters. CRAZY!!! This wasn't our agent this was the owner of the restaurant. Curry Bistro.
She pointed for us to go upstairs where three people where sitting at a table. They weren't chinese and spoke perfect english. "Are you Dean and John"?
A bit relieved we sat down and met three of the nicest people, all teachers, but none of them our agent. Seems as though she was late and they had sent the owner out to find us. Then this pretty petite very quiet woman walked over and gently sat down, it was her, our agent, finally. She couldn't have been sweeter, complete opposite of the owner, who turned out to be wildly funny, cracking jokes and gettin friendly with us.

As I write this, I realize this might be one of those, "you had to be there" stories, but aren't all of these that?

Long story longer.. We had a great dinner, the food was outstanding and so was the company. Afterwards we went for drinks down by West Lake. The social scene was happening and by the end of the night we had talked politics, religion and sex. All the things you're not suppose to talk about. I love traveling. I loved Hangzhou.

Posted by JohnVosler 22:29 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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