15 December 2010

Yangzhou 扬州 (Nov 2nd)

There comes a point in married life where you just need some time away from your spouse. Perhaps it's my independent driven needs. I was desperately craving girl time. I called up Vish and said, "Let's go on a day trip. You in?" "Of course," she replies. The great thing about Vish is that she's always up for anything. We picked a Tuesday-my favorite day of the week because I don't have to work or have Chinese class on that day. This particular Tuesday, Ramsey was recording his voice for English language learning books, so thankfully he didn't mind our need for girl bonding.

I decided that we should go to Yangzhou because I learned about it for a Chinese reading assignment. Yangzhou is in Jiangsu province. It has a rich history of over 2500 years. It's said that Marco Polo was a governor there. It's famous for it's ancient culture and it raised up many great writers, poets, artists, and scholars. It's where the Yangze river and the Great Beijing-Hangzhou canal, the biggest man made canal/river in the whole world, meet. Yangzhou is also famous for its rice. You know that rice you get with egg, shrimp, corns, peas etc... yeah that's Yangzhou fried rice. Americans love it and that's why it's in every Chinese restaurant back home. But actually the rest of China doesn't always have this style of rice.

Anyway, this is the first time I ever really planned an itinerary on my own. Usually when I travel, others do it for me. Either, a tour guide, a friend, or in the best of cases, my brother Jeremy. He really should go into business doing something like that since he's so awesome at it. I don't think I've actually ever booked a hotel on my own. Well, there's always a first for everything. I booked our train tickets and then I got us our connecting bus tickets at Zhenjiang, and I was feeling pretty good about myself.
How can I describe Yangzhou? It has a very different air about it. Life seems less busy. People are more willing to sell things for cheaper. I think less people are out to rip off the non-suspecting foreigner i.e. "laowai." It's got a special energy however. There is very much a energy of wanting success.
The famous "Five Pagodas Bridge"

The first thing we did was visit the "Slender West Lake." If you looked at it, you wouldn't be able to really think of it as a lake. It looks like a wide river, but I suppose that why it's called "slender." Needless to say, because I'm showing you pictures, this lake is gorgeous. Just breathtaking. It turned out to be a rainy day, but I still saw it's potential. It truly has the most amazing scenery. I've never seen so many willows in my life.

Here's us on a rented boat. We took turns driving it.

I loved Da Ming Temple. We climbed all the way to the 9th floor. This was an invigorating experience. We also got incense sticks, lit them, and placed them in various places. We heard monks chant and I watched Vish pray to Buddha.
This temple dates back to the 5th century AD.

A view from one of the floors. We stopped at each floor to look out. That was the most fun part, plus it gave us a chance to catch our breath.
On the way out I bought a paper toy from a lady. When you pulled it's string from top to bottom it would let out a wild bird sound. You could even make squirrel noises with it if you tug, release, tug release, in short intervals. I thought my niece Samantha would be delighted by it and so planned to bring it back with me to give to her. It has since been broken because I brought it to Chinese class to share and it had a rough time in my backpack. It's for the best though, I think my father and Jeremy would have killed me after the bajillionth time the kids would create its wild bird sound.

We visited a couple of gardens: Ge Yuan and He Yuan. These gardens used to be the property of rich land owners. The garden is broken up in 4 parts, each representing a different season. Here is Vish in Ge Yuan. As you can see, these gardens are famous for their amazing rock landscapes.

We went to the Garden Tomb of Puhaddin and some guy gave us a free private tour. It looked pretty deserted. Said to be a descendant of Mohammed, Puhaddin's grave can be found there.

Then we went through ancient Dong Quan Men alley where people sat at stalls and brick buildings selling an assortment of things. I didn't take any pictures because it was too dark at this point, but just imagine Diagon alley from Harry Potter movies. It looked just like it. It was super cool and medieval looking. I bought a lot of peanut brittle from a man with a cart. That bag lasted for days.

We walked around the city a lot. We ate, we window shopped, I bought a pair of white gloves and white puffy ear muffs.

Then we went to some hot springs. These hotsprings were a great relaxing end to a very walking intensive day. We enjoyed the pool that had rose pedals with rose oil the most. I think we stayed in that one for most of the time.

The next day, we took the 1 and 1/2 hour train ride home.

And thus ends my girl time trip to Yangzhou. =)


  1. Awesome! Good for you for having some girl time. We all need it now and then. And what a beautiful place to visit. I'm glad you are having so much fun over there. And I LOVE your parasol/umbrella. I totally want one!

  2. great post with great pictures. Thanks.

  3. Wow, what beautiful willows! How fun!