Work Hard: Play Hard

Martin and I have certainly been working hard. The UCAS applications are nearly completed, and Martin was teaching practically a double timetable due to sickness within his department. Thailand, was therefore a well deserved break.  But we decided that every month we would try to visit somewhere different close to Suzhou. IMG_3197

Hangzhou has been on our list since Martin came here in long before we knew we would be coming to live in China. Hangzhou is home to West Lake, and thankfully we visited here before Thailand and the Moon Festival during Golden week at the end of September/beginning of October. West Lake is home to a few islands,  the smallest one is in the foreground of the photo above.  Here you can look at Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, which are three small towers in the water, each tower has five holes that release shafts of candlelight on the night of the mid-autumn festival (Golden Week). It was beautiful, though clearly the couple in the 3rd picture weren’t struck by it. The lake was full was boats that were Chinese in style. There were also rowing boats, but we didn’t fancy that.

Hangzhou is also the place where Eleanor succumbed to the sprouts. IMG_3188IMG_3190

From Hangzhou and our globe hotelIMG_3391

We went to Nanjing and the tallest hotel in China reaching 88 floors.IMG_3321

Nanjing was interesting, not least because when we arrived on the train it was torrential rain with thunderstorms and lightening and approximately 26 degrees Celsius in November! On the Saturday and Sunday it was cold – still raining but without the humidity. Nanjing is the provincial capital of Jiangsu province. We have only scratched the surface of this city with has a rich and impressive cultural history that survived the Cultural Revolution. In the 19th Century the Opium Wars brought the British to Nanjing and where China was forced to pay a huge war indemnity officially ceding Hong Kong to Britain. In 1937, many citizens had atrocities committed against them by Japanese soldiers. There is a Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre, but we didn’t feel able to go there with a 6 year old, when even the Lonely Planet guide comments on it being overwhelming.  We didn’t do the museum either which is China’s first national museum from the neolithic period right to communist times.  What we did do was…Ming Xiaoling Scenic Area, which surrounds the tomb of the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty (apparently the only Ming emperor buried outside of Beijing). We walked a 618m “spirit path” lined with trees and stone statues of lions, camels, elephants and horses that drive away evil spirits. There are also two mythical creatures . The autumn colours were beautiful, and despite the rain we had a lovely time.

Prior to going to dinner we visited The Confucian Fuzi Temple. It was a centre of study for 1500 years, but not much of it has been rebuilt and also lit up at nightIMG_3327

bit tacky if you ask me. For our evening meal, we had been recommended MOTU, a New Zealand Burger place. The burgers with imported meat were succulent and delicious.  After our fantastic burgers and cajun chips we went for a walk in Nanjing’s Old/New Street (Suzhou has one of these too) and happened upon a very foreboding large portion of the city wall. At nearly 9pm and well past someone’s bed time, we didn’t explore the city walls fully.


And our hotel room? Did we have magnificent views of the Purple/Gold Mountain from the 68th floor…IMG_3301

Well this was Saturday morning.  Sunday morning we drew back the curtains and we were met with another thick curtain of fog.

We will have to go back.


Coming up…the mountain adventure a long long long way from anywhere.