I was up early this morning so took the opportunity to take a wander around the old Chinese area around the hotel. Outside the hotel I came across a group of track suit clad ladies gently dancing in formation to Chinese music coming from a small amplifier. They may have been the nurses from a hospital across the road.
The local area was full of life and I enjoyed exploring the narrow streets with all the shops, little restaurants & food stalls all doing good business. One notable point of interest was that people did their cloth washing on the streets. There were people washing clothes in bowls & everywhere there were racks & hangers along the pavements with clothes drying on them. Apparently there are no other places or areas amongst the narrow side lanes where they can get enough room or sun to dry them.
After breakfast it was time to get back on the coach once again as we were heading off to another city, Suzhou, about 60 miles inland. On the way though we were going to see a bit more of Shanghai starting off with a visit to a silk factory. Once again we were subjected to a demonstration of the silk making process before being herded into the shop area. No great pressure to buy but we've seen the process before in Thailand & Turkey & don't want to buy loads of expensive silk products, however lovely. Some people did though so we just had to hang about till they finished.
After lunch we were taken to the Shanghai museum. A number of our party, including us, decided to wander around outside the museum for the hour or so allocated for the visit. A lovely hot sunny afternoon for a walk.
Our next scheduled trip was to the nearby famous shopping area around Nanjing Road. After warnings from our guide about touts & pickpockets we were set loose on our own for an hour. Viv & I opted to ride the little road train that ran the length of Nanjing Road itself. We got off at the end & meandered our way back through the crowds.
Then it was back on the coach once again for the drive out to Suzhou, which is often dubbed the "Venice of the East" because of the city's canals. We didn't go straight to our hotel but stopped off for dinner at a local restaurant before being taken to visit Canal Street. This was a lovely experience as the narrow streets either side of the canal were lit up with many Chinese lanterns. It was lovely to stroll along & watch the canal boats loaded with trippers navigating the narrow waterway. Very lively with tourists everywhere but still great fun.
Only an hour available here before being whisked off to check in at our hotel. This turned out to be the newest & best of the hotels we stayed in. I took up the 'special' offer of a "full body oil massage" in the hotel spa but in the end wished I hadn't. I did not get a full body massage but rather a very thorough 45mins of torture on my back. A very nice young Chinese girl proceeded to squeeze & knead my neck & back moving every muscle, sinew & tendon into positions they had never been into before. It was agony but I didn't have the heart to tell her this when she used her mobile phone to translate a message asking if I enjoyed it. I could still feel the pain days later.