I am somewhat stupid in that I did not write down where I actually went in China. We started in Wuhan (that was easy to remember), then flew to Shanghai and toured two places near there. I didn’t remember what those places were, since everything was in Chinese and I have a horrible memory for names. So last night I spent a bit of time trying to figure out where we actually went for the first day. I had figured out that we went to Hangzhou the second day very soon after I got back from China. This is about 100 km southwest of Shanghai. It turns out that my graduate student was home visiting her parents in Hangzhou when I was there. The first day we went to Suzhou, which is about 100 km northwest of Shanghai.
I had never really taken a tour bus before. You know, one of those buses that is jammed packed full of people who are super-obviously tourists. That was me. I was the only non-Chinese person on the bus, which is interesting. The people who were taking me around obviously spoke English, but not too many others did. The first place we stopped, Lion Grove Garden in Suzhou, was jam packed full of people. There must have been 10-15 buses there. Each tour leader had a flag on a pole, so you could figure out where to gather. When we went into the garden, there was a building first, in which you literally could not move without the people in front of you moving:
I thought that the whole day was going to be like this and was somewhat depressed by that. But, once we got through the first building, the crowds thinned out a bit and we could actually move around. There was absolutely no escaping people, but at least we weren’t crammed in together. The rock garden was very pretty and was basically a maze of large lava-like rock formations that you could walk through. There was also a pond with some bridges and pavilions. It was quite beautiful. Here is a bridge (with some people):