Dad and I took a trip to Suzhou and Shanghai last year. As my first trip to China, my heart was full of curiosity since I always got different information about China. I could not help wondering, what the heck is China like?
First destination - Suzhou. Dad and I experienced the train journey from hell to get there. With no soft sleepers available, we had to settle for seats. I was not too concerned, because after all, the overnight journeys in Egyptian trains weren't too bad. Despite of the awful journey, Suzhou itself was fun. After sleeping away the day in our hotel, as we did not get any sleep whatsoever on the train, Dad and I spent the evening at the night market and had a lovely dinner in a Muslim restaurant there.
Next day, we visited 2 of Suzhou's many gardens. I selected "The Garden of the Humble Administrator" and "The Master of the Nets". Both were very interesting. The former was large and filled with many small pagodas with interesting names and window paneling and the latter was compact but was great to photograph - and the young art students who were sitting there drawing the buildings and their reflections in the water thought so too.
In addition, Dad and I climbed the Northern Pagoda. Cannot remember exactly how many stairs we had to climb but the end result was a great view over the city.
Final stop in China, and my trip for that matter, was Shanghai. I had been given plenty of advice that it was not a place in which to spend much time, so we only allowed a day. And it was enough. Dad and I walked along The Bund taking plenty of photographs of the amazing high-rise buildings in the city and some of the older colonial buildings. Dad and I took the The Bund underground tunnel to the other side of the river. Whilst it was named as if it was going to be a simple pedestrian tunnel, it was actually a great tourist attraction - you stepped into a cabin and travelled beneath the river through a fantastic laser light show, totally unexpected and enjoyable.
We then went to the Oriental pearl tower and took elevators to all 3 "pearls". As tall buildings go, it is up there with some of the world greats. Unfortunately, the view serves to remind you that you are in a huge metropolis where the high-rise buildings go on for as long as the eye can see. No quite as ugly as Athens but up there in the urban sprawl category. On the positive side, we breathed in some "fresh" air on the 2 open-air observation desks and "wow" and "aahhhed" over the Jin Mao Tower just across the way. It is a magnificent piece of modern architecture and probably my favorite modern building for the trip.
That night, Dad and I enjoyed our final night by taking a trip to the French concession on the metro and dining in a lovely curry house. I should say after this trip, I cannot agree more with the saying "China is not a country. It is a whole another world." People are used to judge others with the stereotypes, but if we put down all the prejudices and go to see a place with our won eyes, things will be different.