Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Suzhou Creek

After successfully getting my train ticket to Hangzhou and getting a booking in the hostel there, I decided to go for a wander. Most days, to get anywhere interesting, such as People's Square, the Bund, or the sushi restaurant I have been frequenting, one needs to turn left out of the hostel. But, I noticed yesterday that to the right (where I turned to get to the store where I bought detergent for my laundry), there was some greenery. So, today I decided to explore and see what it was.

It was a little park that went along side a creek, Suzhou Creek, as it turns out. I have no idea what significance this has except that it's a fairly large creek on my map so it seems impressive somehow.

As I was leaving the park, I noticed a group of people doing something akin to Tai Chi and a woman smiled at me and I had a fantasy that I would go join their group and do some of the movements with them. But I didn't. Instead, I ventured toward a street that runs parallel to mine because it looked fairly happening. I noticed in a magazine kiosk that there was a Chinese language magazine featuring Dirk Nowitski of the Dallas Mavericks (basketball team for those who aren't hip on the NBA) and I wanted to buy it for Janie. But the woman in the kiosk was fast asleep and I decided instead to photograph it.

As I turned around from the kiosk, I heard a "hello" and it was a man sitting at a table with a briefcase-type bag. I said "ni hao" and then he engaged me in conversation in quite decent English. He said he knew 7 languages, which I don't doubt, but it makes me think what a shame he couldn't use his language skills for profit and get some dental work. (He had one, single, majorly decayed top tooth remaining, and nubs of teeth on the bottom.) He asked if I had any American coins to give him as a present but unfortunately I did not. Since it was out in the open on a busy street, I wasn't particularly threatened, but I did end up thinking this guy could go on talking all day, so I said I had to get to meet some friends. Which, I guess in a way was true because later tonight I am meeting up with two Finnish sisters I have befriended (who are staying in my hostel) for dinner.

I walked back by way of the busy street where I passed a bakery and ended up with way more baked goods than I wanted. But for less than 4 yuan, it was okay. Then I photographed a few things I saw on the street, including a policeman getting his LPG (natural gas) tank in his motor bike looked at by what looked like the appropriate LPG motor bike mechanics, and passed by what looked like a scuffle between some pedestrians and a man on a motor bike. Aye aye aye.

Back at the hostel for a while...tomorrow I will try to do some sightseeing and brave the masses. And oh boy....are there masses.

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