2nd last day
You know who has a great 20 year old daughter? I do. Simple as that. She has entertained me, educated me, helped me, adventured with me for the last 16 days. She must have been bored, irritated, embarrassed, but she did it. She rocks. I am so grateful that she allowed me to take advantage of this opportunity.
I wasn't so glad when we slept in again this morning. I did try and wake her up at one point and she told me "I am in a very bad mood right now and trying really hard to be nice" so I let her go back to sleep, and did the same myself.
So, we missed breakfast again, however, it was so late when we finally got up that the cafeteria had reopened for lunch.
Then we took the bus to the North Suzhou Bus Station and caught an inter-city bus to the quaint little canal city of Tongli. It is sort of like Suzhou in the antiquity/canal/proximity to Shanghai department, but it has kept it's old town pristine, instead of building up around and in it. You get off the bus, walk about 15 minutes, cross a canal, pay an entry fee and it is like you have stepped back in time. Tiny lane-ways, people on little boats along the canal, gracious gardens, and a feeling that it would totally reek during the warm months. We visited a couple of gardens, looked at some shops, saw some museums and then headed back into the newer part of town for dinner.
One of the Museums was the Chinese Sex Culture Museum. They have two buildings, the one in Tongli, and one in Shanghai. The write-ups made it sound great, but it wasn't. Lots of stone phallus and naked people in the pretty gardens, but in the buildings themselves just a weird assortment of sculptures, found objects, artifacts and plenty of paintings of different coital positions (you have seen them before, from Japan or China, well this place had tons, pretty much minor variations on each other). The "curator" had tried to tie each room together with a theme, but the displays didn't really much reflect the ideas (and why was there a giant sculpture of a soaring eagle in the middle of the gallery of sexual deviancy?) There were some interesting "sex education" figurines that could be hidden inside larger ceramic figures, so that mothers could discretely use them to teach their daughter what was expected of them. The pillows that were built to hide dildos for lonely nuns and concubines were pretty cool too, but how people sleep on the hard wood or ceramic pillows I do not know. The whole place was more like an eccentric with an eclectic interest in the erotic decided to put their collection up for public viewing, than it was a museum.
Our dinner was scrumptious. We went into this tiny little hole in the wall, and were handed baskets by this 6 or 7 year old girl, then we went to a fridge and filled our baskets with our soup fixings. I had two kinds of tofu, bok choy, nappa, hard-boiled quail eggs, preserved greens, two kinds of mushrooms and ramen noodles. I handed it to the woman standing by the big pot of water and she cooked it up for me. Meanwhile the little girl showed us to our table, brought us a bottle opener, and straws. When our big steaming bowls of soup arrived we added chilies, and vinegar and chowed down. It was so cold in the place, and the soup was so hot and spicy that my nose was running like a faucet, but I didn't mind, I was hungry. For entertainment we had a blaring TV showing some crazy loud cartoon about a little boy and a pig who where friends, but yelled at each other a lot. All this for less than 3 bucks for both of us.
My favorite point in the day was about halfway back to Suzhou. Our bus driver is barreling along (don't have an actual speed, but factoring in the roar of the engine, the bouncing, the creaking and rattling, I would guess about 330km/hr) this elevated expressway, holding down firmly on his horn as he tries to veer across all 3 lanes of crowded traffic, flashing his lights and weaving in and out, when his phone rings, and he answers it, and starts YELLING at the person on the other end, no preamble, straight to the bellow. We made it though.
Tomorrow we will get up early, and we will make it to breakfast, then we will finish our Scrabble game, then I am off to the airport.
Egads, I will miss the big girl terribly.