China, day 14
June 3, 2002
Next day we took off to beautiful Suzhou, 66 kilometers outside of Shanghai
Suzhou is, among many things, famous for its leaning pagoda. It was built in 961 A.D. and has been leaning more and more over time. In 1981, they added concrete to the foundation and the leaning stopped. Tourists are still not allowed to enter the pagoda, though.
Pagodas were mainly used for storage of treasures and valuables, away from enemies but also from flooding.
Suzhou has a city wall, and since the canals inside and outside the city are heavily used, there is a water gate as well as a draw bridge.
taking a nap between customers
We visited the largest garden in Suzhou. There are another 245 gardens of various sizes, all hidden behind houses or walls. Rich people did not want to show off their gardens, afraid of being attacked by the poor.
A fish bowl with a ball fish?
A Black Dragon
an old office
Evil spirits hiding in the water cannot follow and attack you if you walk on a zig-zag bridge...
Pebbles on the ground offer a good massage for aching bound female feet
If you can jump from one bat, in to the center of the pattern, and out to another bat - you will add another 20 years to your life.
I did it twice, so we'll see how old I get...
The garden hosted a Japanese bonzai tree exhibition
This huge vase has a nice ornament
This is the way the local hats look in Suzhou
After lunch, we went for a little cruise on the city canals
Canal boats are built for heavy loads
some people live on their boats
trying to grab an empty bottle to earn an extra yuan
Again, laundry hanging outside
This man was just finished washing his shoes
Back to the bus again, and off to the silk factory!
The good cocoons are separated out
This is how to make silk thread:
First, boil the cocoons and stir until you catch the beginning of the thread from each cocoon. A good cocoon can have 1000 meters of silk thread on it.
Cocoons stirred to find thread beginnings (movie file)
Then, feed the threads through the machine. The cocoons are floating in water to allow them to spin freely as the thread unwinds. 6-9 threads are spun together to make one strong silk thread.
Above, the drums are collecting the silk thread
some machinery detail (movie file)
When the cocoon thread runs out, the remains go in the trash.
The little spools are wound over on large spools...
...which are tied with a few knots to keep the bunches together...
...and the silk thread bunches are ready to ship.
Not a factory visit without an opportunity to support the local government, of course.
After a late night out, a bedside corner can be amazingly comfortable.
Small sheets of lower grade (double or stained) silk thread is stretched out across what's going to be a comforter.
stretching of silk sheets (movie file)
When we were done shopping, some extra time was killed through a frisbee match
We left the silk factory, and Suzhou, and headed back to Shanghai.
a road sign along the way....
After a random search downtown, we found an excellent Italian place, where we were all raving about having non-Chinese food for a change.
During a late night ATM session Dennis managed to get his card stuck in the machine...and it was stuck in Chinese. After trying everything else, we finally got the card out using a coin....
Proceed to Day 15