Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Mary Abroad

In our final weeks on our assignment here we had one last visitor decide to pop over.  Mary Alice came to stay the week. Here are a few snapshots of our week!

Mary flew into Beijing and Clif took the train to meet her. It was  a quick weekend trip. They crammed in some fine dining on Beijing duck, scorpions on a stick and The Great Wall.  This being Clif's second trip they went to the same location but walked the opposite direction. While the ruins are much closer, the climb is a lot more challenging.

Getting ready to take the toboggan down!
On Monday, Clif took the day off and went with us to visit a near-by scenic area in Mudu, a local water town. The area we visited is Tianping Mountain (Flat Peak Mountain). This mountain is about 659 feet high. Mary and I were on the search for the spring at the peak. However, I had a baby strapped to my back and as we neared the top there ceased to be steps and only large rocks. After maneuvering the first round of rocks with baby M on my back, I decided it was probably a better idea to say we almost made it to the top!

Let's do this!

Entertaining the locals. M got an orange from her fans here.

This as far as we made it, but I think we did pretty well.

While we climbed, Clif enjoyed some juggling.

Enjoying her orange after a hard hike.

I said, "But the sun will be in our eyes." Clif said, "Don't squint."

Making friends everywhere she goes!

M's favorite, fish!

Tip 2

This little girl must have been very convincing at the "shopping area."

What is 5D you ask?  Well, according to Google translate it includes blisters. Ouch!

Our city is known for all of the ancient gardens and temples. I had planned on taking Mary to one of the largest and probably most frequented, but then I decided I might as well see one more before I leave.   There is a pagoda I see from the expressway frequently, but had never visited. So, I decided we would visit the Bao’en Temple Pagoda or North Temple Pagoda. It is the most ancient Buddhist temple in Suzhou. The pagoda is the highest in Suzhou and as a bonus we were able to climb up it!

Looking out over Old Town with SIP and Big Pants in the background.

On our walk back down the street we also saw the BIGGEST crab ever. I should have gotten a picture of it. It was a monster and probably was going to feed a whole family.

Our next stop was Shantang Street. This is ancient street in the Old Town. Most of the buildings have been turned into shops and restaurants, but it is always fascinating to look at the architecture.  On this adventure we detoured down a side street and saw many typical sites, veg stands, live poultry stands, old women playing mahjong, and a huge fish being hacked up at a live fish shop. Yum!

Suzhou has kept all their original canals. I love seeing the old homes, each with a staircase going right down to the water. Some places you can still catch people doing dishes or laundry in the canal.

They melt down sugar and whatever flavoring then lay a stick on wax paper. The worker pours the melted candy into a creature or whatever they imagine. Here they made a crab. When it hardens they can pick it up and it is similar to a sucker.

Not ancient, but still so interesting.

This was our detour. We got some looks, I don't foreigners are normally seen down here.
The last day of our trip we went to the Pearl Market. I was nervous about taking M. I thought it was going to be a disaster, but she actually did really well. She played with a few necklaces without breaking a thing!

Shopping with the ladies.