I promised this post two weeks ago, and I'm just now sitting down to write it. Sorry. Technical difficulties. I was exhausted when I got back, then I went and got REALLY exhausted putting up the art fair, and by the time I went, "I really ought to write that promised post about Suzhou," my internet had been disconnected by China Telecom's MORONIC policies (namely, that when you pay for a month's service, that service begins on the first of the month in which you pay...so even though I paid for a month's internet on May 15, it got shut off on June 1st. Bastards.)
Anyways - Suzhou. As you may recall, I visited Socrates there my first year in China, when it was getting just a little too cold. I found myself returning on a school-paid staff trip, when it was just a little too hot. And I couldn't stop myself from feeling a little nostalgic - although that weekend with Socrates wasn't exactly the best of times. The hotel we stayed in was gorgeous, and coincidentally, on the same canal where Socrates once lived, so I walked down it at one point along one of the walks we took back then. Other than the temperature, not much had changed.
Well, Suzhou hasn't much changed. I have. Or maybe I've reverted to what I've always been. The last time I went to Suzhou, I didn't see any of the gardens - I saw the land and water gate, Panmen, and it's adjoining pagoda, and that was all of scenic Suzhou I visited, because the grouch himself didn't feel like looking at gardens and I didn't care to labor the point. This time, I was with friends, and they were pretty happy once they'd seen one garden...afterwards they wanted to go on a canal cruise, and get a massage, and the next day visit the Sex Museum in Tongli. Well, the canal cruise didn't appeal, I'm not much for massages, and I've been to Tongli, thankyouverymuch, so I said, "Cool. Have fun. I'll see you later," and went off wandering.
I saw the Blue Wave Pavilion, and a Confucian temple
and a man fishing along the way...
I saw some great Engrish
the bustling marketplace around a Taoist Temple
and the gorgeous Lion's Grove.
Those big craggy rocks are meant to represent lions, the traditional defenders of Buddhism, which seems funny to me, since they look nothing like it and even if they did, are lions even indigenous to Asia, the stronghold of Buddhism??? Anyways, I had a great weekend and so did my friends, doing their thing, and even though I wasn't quite ready to go back to work Monday it - as always - felt good to get out of Shanghai, especially to a place with as nice a vibe as Suzhou.
And now, I have less than three weeks left here - it's hard to believe. On one hand, that seems like forever, but when I think about everything I have to do before I go, it is clearly not enough time. One way or another, I guess I'll get through it.