Monday, February 27, 2012

Breakfast in Suzhou, Visiting Hangzhou

Breakfast in our hotel in Suzhou was less stressful than the last morning in Nanjing. There was plenty of food and the trays of food were actually refilled when they were emptied.

I took a stroll around the dining area to scout out all the choices. My plan of attack involved trying a small bowl of chocolate Rice Krispies, some stir-fried round noodles, getting an over-easy egg, and finishing up with a bowl of wonton soup.


The chocolate cereal looked like the stuff from Kellogg’s, but I was in China so I naturally doubted that it was legit. The cereal wasn’t super sweet from the chocolate, but the cereal itself was a bit stale.



Looking back at this plate is scary. The whole plate is filled with carbs. I love my carbs, but geez, I really need to take it easy! The stir-fried noodles were quite greasy. There was a bit of char and a bit of smokiness.


The steamed bun tasted just like the yummy ones that the hotel in Nanjing. The meat-filled buns had a slightly sweet sauce surrounding the filling, which provided the bun with a bit of moisture.


Mom really liked the cooked water chestnut. Tasting some minced water chestnuts in some versions of beef cheung fan have ruined water chestnuts for me.




Mom said that the croissants tasted really good when toasted lightly and she was right. The over-easy egg was lacking some salt and pepper.

I asked one of the gentlemen working the dining area for some. He disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a plate full of salt and white pepper. With the help of some lightly toasted croissant, the seasoned over-easy egg was finished without any difficulty.

As for the tiny tangerines in the background, those were packed away for a future snack.


The bowl of wonton soup was a comforting filler.


I went to grab another plate of greasy noodles. Yum.

After breakfast, our whole tour group gathered on the bus and we spent a few hours driving to Hangzhou. We got stuck in some bad traffic on the way there. There was a bad accident involving a tour bus on the oncoming lanes. Everyone naturally slowed down enough to get a glimpse of the broken bus.


Our bus driver pulled over near an intersection and to let us all off the bus. We were guided into the Sichuan Folk for lunch. Most of us weren’t hungry. We just sat on the bus for about five hours. It was a good thing that I stashed some of tangerines from breakfast. They smelled and tasted great on the bus ride over.


There were a bunch of locals enjoying their lunch. It was a pleasant sight, since most of our meals during this tour and the Guilin tour were found inside restaurants that mostly catered to tour groups.



The beer had a very eye-catching label. It also had a cartoon on the back.


This spicy dish of peppers, peanuts, and green onions were a great starter to our meal. It reminded me of a dish I had in Beijing.


There were slices of braised pork belly on top of a bed of what tasted like olive leaves.




We had squash with minced meat, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, and stir-fried potatoes.



My favourite dish of the meal was the pork and green onion buns. The buns came on the side. The pork and green onions were greasy, but this was my type of dish.

We noticed that a lot of the locals ordered a dish that used plenty of peppers. One gentleman, clad in sweats, was picking at a mound of peppers and a large bowl of spicy soup by himself. It would’ve been nice to get that dish. It looked like it was a popular dish.

Our tour group hopped on the bus again and then got off near a busy tourist attraction.



The tourist attraction was the area around the Jingci Temple. As we walked in, a handful of tour groups left the grounds. Looking around, it looked like there was only one other tour group walking about.

Our tour guide told us that we could either walk with him around the grounds or wander the grounds and meet at a designated meeting area. Aunt IS and I decided to walk around at our own pace. The tour guide told us that if we were to wander around the temple, we had to meet at the area at a specific time because our schedule was running late (from the traffic that morning). No problem!




Aunt IS and I walked up a flight of stairs, past the dragon carving, and went inside a room with a bronze Buddha statue. Whatever the Buddha was sitting on top of (bronze Buddha beanbag perhaps?), it had a lot of smaller Buddhas. The sun peaked through the trees and provided a nice spotlight.


We climbed a few flights of stairs towards the back of the temple and were rewarded with a gorgeous view.


I even saw a baby dragon. Hehee!


The Leifeng Pagoda could be seen from the top of the stairs. Beautiful!

Taking a glance at the time stamps on my photos, we had about ten minutes to walk back down in time to meet the group.

As we took our time walking down the steps of the temple, I saw something in the corner of my eye. Penguin? I turned my attention into the trees and brush. Nothing. We went down a few steps and then I heard a bird teasing.



Aunt IS and I bumped into a guy in our tour group. We were apparently late. There’s no way. We still had plenty of time, I thought. We met up with the rest of our tour group at the designated spot – just under five minutes early, and they said we were late? Whatever. It was worth it.


We walked across the street and walked down a bamboo-lined path. The path brought us down to the West Lake area. Our tour guide led us to a small garden before backtracking to a dock. He said that we were going to go on boat tour and cross the lake. The bus driver was going to meet us on the other side.


The boat that picked us up looked exactly like the red one. We happened to share the boat with another tour group, so our tour guide took it easy and chilled with the older members of the group inside the boat. Everyone else stood outside.


Nice decal, eh?



The boat took us past the “Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon.” Our tour guide showed us that this was on the back of the one yuan bill. I was a bit upset that there was a small boat in the way.


While taking in the sights of Hangzhou, I felt at peace every time I looked at the mountains. It reminded me of the gorgeous mountains in Guilin and Hong Kong. I live in eastern Ontario so I’m not used to dramatic mountains. The closest thing we have here are the Gatineau Hills. Let me repeat that: hills.

After a bit more walking, we waited for our bus driver to find his way through more traffic. He eventually got through, picked us up, and drove us through the mountains. We were able to see tea growing in the fields and mountains. It was quite the view! Our tour guide told us that the famous Dragon Well tea (aka longjing tea).





We were herded into a room where a lady talked about the longjing tea. We tried some tea and after the spiel, she tried to convince us to buy some.


There was some concentrated stuff in pill form, for those who like to take supplements and vitamins. They apparently don’t export this outside of China. I guess she was trying to make the lure dance a bit. A few people bit.

We were rushed back on the bus and driven to a restaurant nearby. The tour guide told us that we needed to eat quickly so that we wouldn’t be late for our next activity.











Nothing was outstanding. We had dinner and then rushed back to the bus. Our bus was probably the third bus that left that parking lot. It took us just over an hour to drive back into the city. I knew we were nearby when we drove by Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Mercedes car dealerships. Pretty sweet.

We got stuck in traffic again. It looked like everyone was trying to go see the “Night of the West Lake” show. On the main street, there were familiar restaurant chains that lined the bright road. It would’ve been nice if we could’ve just had dinner there. I wouldn’t mind paying for myself.

Our bus driver got us to the show right in time. The award winning show was actually really fun to watch. It mixed live performances with lights, lasers, fake smoke, and even projections all together. I’ve never seen anything like it. Even though it is another tourist attraction, I’d recommend that you check it out.

After the show was over, we walked through the cigarette smoke-filled lobby of the theatre. Our group stuck close together. Led by our tour guide, he brought us to the tour bus, which wasn’t far at all. We were driven a few blocks away to our hotel.

I would’ve loved to walk around that busy street after the show. Maybe grab a bite to eat and walk around, but no.


At the hotel, most of our group decided to and go shopping after we checked into our rooms. There was a floor named “AA” in our hotel. Sketchy!


There was a large department store that we visited, but no one bought anything. I was still yearning for a snack, soup dumplings to be more specific, but no luck. Most of the stores were closed at 9. On the way back from the department store, I noticed this small shop across the street. Lost in translation? Yikes!

Our little window-shopping adventure ended safely. Our entire group returned back to the hotel safely.

Breakfast in Nanjing, Visiting in Suzhou

Last Full Day: Hangzhou to Shanghai

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