Tag vacation china



A 40 minute train ride from Shanghai brings you to Suzhou, the city of gardens. I expected a small to medium size city, but found this city of 6 million surprisingly more of a larger city. I would guess it to be about the size of Kunming.

Many rivers and canals run through the old city where you find hutongs and garden compounds. It is also the city that produces much of the silk in China. No doubt it is a city geared for the tourist and everyone seems quite aggressive to get you into their shops. One a plus side, this leaves for a lot of competition so you can bargain down prices quite a bit. I found the silk products here of very high quality and workmanship very good. Be sure to look closely at what you want to buy and bargain hard. I found a beautiful silk thread picture about 2 ft X 2 ft that was priced at 23,000 RMB. The colors and quality were outstanding and made by a famous artist here. I found it in an art gallery, not a tourist shop. It took the artist 5 weeks to make. I bargained it down to 5,300 RMB, and this was in an art gallery. The silk museum also has a store with some good quality silks, but they will not lower their rather high prices. Many of the items there could be found elsewhere for a lot less.

Tiger Hill Park is a must see. The 1600 year old pagoda there is the “Leaning Tower of China” as it looks ready to fall over any minute. I was assured it has been retrofitted with internal supports and it will not fall down. The public is not allowed inside, but it is quite interesting to see. One of my pictures shows it’s doorway and gives you a good idea of how much it is leaning.

Walking around Suzhou is like a mix between Lijiang and Beijing. Many interesting alleys and river views can be found everywhere. The gardens are quite nice, but a visit to one or two is all you really need to see. They all have about the same design utilizing rocks and water which is a traditional stlye for Suzhou.

The local food is fish and a special crab, but I didn’t find it all that special. Worth a try, but I liked the local noodles more. Taxi’s are very cheap and the best way to get around. You can use the 3 wheeled bike taxis as well, best for running around inside the old town area. I recommend the Holiday Inn Hotel for it’s location and room quality. It is a 5 star hotel that deserves it’s rating. 50 RMB for a full buffet breakfast including western foods and great coffee. I think 2 nights would allow one to see everything Suzhou has to offer.

Another Shanghai

I just returned from another trip to Shanghai. This time I went up to the top of the new World Trade Center. This building is 495m and 125 stories. It is the tallest building in Asia now. The Jin Mao tower held the record for 1 year before they built the WTC beside it. I also saw the Shanghai acrobatic show this time. It is amazing how they can bend and balance their bodies.

Shanghai is quite a beautiful citywhere the building never seems to end. I would have to label it as the New York city of Asia.

Swimming with the Fishes


Last Tuesday night the rains rolled in on Kunming. It was dumping rain with no let up for several hours. The water was so heavy that the noise kept me awake all night. By the next day, Kunming was completely flooded. Major streets were under a foot of water, and much of the area was 3 feet deep. The ap photo is a good shot of downtown. I found this China news release….

“Downtown areas in the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, were almost all flooded with up to a meter of water in places after a six-hour rainstorm over Tuesday night.

The city’s traffic was seriously disrupted and many people complained they were late for work as the major avenues were all under water.

More seriously, some junior high students were late for the annual entrance examination to senior high school, which began on Wednesday, but local education authorities allowed latecomers to be given extra time.

The city’s international airport was also closed on Tuesday morning as the runways were waist-deep in water. As of 7 p.m., more than 150 flights were delayed and more than 3,500 passengers were stranded.

More than 20 flights to Kunming had to land in the neighboring municipality of Chongqing instead.

The airport reopened at 5 p.m. and flights to Beijing and Shanghai took off. However, at 8 p.m., more than 1,000 passengers waiting still stranded.

More rain was forecast in the next two days and the China Meteorological Administration asked local governments to prepare.

(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-07-04 08:06

Since Monday, heavy rains in Yunnan province have killed five people and affected more than 60,000 others, local authorities said Thursday.

The provincial civil affairs department said that as of 4 pm yesterday, more than 2,100 houses had collapsed, 14,200 others had been damaged, and about 2,500 people had been evacuated.

Kunming, the provincial capital, on Tuesday recorded its third-highest rainfall since records began in 1951. Up to a meter of water fell in the city center during a six-hour storm that inundated major roads and buildings, the department said.”

I had to drive across town at 1am that night. It was raining so hard I could barely see to drive. I haven’t seen this much rain since coming here 3 years ago! But all’s well on the home front. I managed to keep my powder dry….

Wait a week…… it will all change


Kunming, like all over China is changing faster than anyplace I have ever seen. In some of my past posts I referred to this as well. Much of this desire by the government to renew China is quickly wiping out it’s own cultural history. Hutongs in Beijing are almost extinct now. Historic villages and cities are torn down and rebuilt with modern condos.

Here in Kunming alone, thousands of condos have been torn down in just the last year. The old city center with buildings several hundred years old, is all gone save for about a 2 block strip. I think it is also earmarked for destruction. I was just through there and noticed the brick walls going up down the street. Soon after that they usually begin knocking down the buildings behind the walls.

These pictures show the destruction of two condo buildings downtown. 1 week later this park appears. Kunming seems to be replacing most of the old condo spaces with large parks, which really is a great improvement. All the people displaced by removing the condos, are given brand new condos that are being built SW of the city center. I must say that the new ones are quite impressive and a big step up for the people getting them. When a condo is ready for these people, they hold a lottery where they draw a number to see what condo you get. Seems like a fair enough system to me.

Still it is sad to see many historic buildings taken away to make room for high rise glass office buildings. Preservation of these buildings take a back seat to progress in China. I hope this attitude will change before China evolves into a place showcased by modern steel and glass cities. Time will tell.

stinkin horse!


My car insurance agent just told me a story about one of his clients. I had taken my car to him for my free engine cleaning, a benefit this company provides to their customers. He says how nice it is to have me as a customer because we are good to take care of our car. Still, his job is hard because of so much trouble many customers make for him.

Then he told me of one customer that is a farmer who just came into some $$$ because they found iron ore on his property near Kunming. So this guy goes out and buys a new “E’ class Mercedes. It cost him over 1 million RMB.

I’m sure you all have seen pictures of the horse driven stone grinders used to make corn flour. This farmer dude decided to retire his horse, and rig up his new Benz for the task. He enjoys driving it in circles, day after day making his corn meal! I hope to go get some pics of this later.

Another farmer, who also bought a Benz, uses his on the farm as well. He’s a pig farmer! He actually crams pigs in his car to take them to the market. Now he doesn’t need a special license to bring animals into the city. This guys a thinker! No kidding, this stuff happens here.