Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wuxi to Shanghai: turtle heads, frogs, pears, rain, and light

Well today we started off with a visit to a garden.

Actually it was a specific site called Turtle Head because this particular peninsula tip looks like the head of a turtle. It was owned by a wealthy family that was Japanese-friendly. After the invasion of WWI, the family prospered. Once the Japanese were finally driven out in the 1970s the family disappeared in the night. Names we changed to protect the innocent offspring, etc.

The area is now owned by the city of Wuxi.
There were tons of pretty flowers and ponds and greenery. And as is our norm now, the girls and I wandered away from the group to explore at our own will. Just call us Marco Polo.

Luckily, unlike Marco Polo in the 1200's, I have a camera to capture all of the foliage. Drawing these out by hand surely wouldn't impress anyone to become the next Christopher Columbus.

The vibrant colors really spoke to me on this particular day.

The stone work was also pretty poetic. This here on the left is a sea horse (obviously) that was sculpted by nature.

Marissa, Kiana, and Sabrina took off around the far side of a pond for some fish watching. I like this candid one in particular because I can totally see Marissa becoming the next teacher in our family.

If these girls follow the same path as the rest of our family they will all either be teachers or be married to a teacher.

Despite Marissa's predilection towards animals (career choices of vet, animal trainer, etc) it seems she will be the educator.

Speaking of animals the turtle head peninsula is known for a lighthouse at it's outmost tip.

Marissa, Sabrina, Kiana, and just about all other people under 35 were more interested in these little guys found on the opposing side of the walkway from the lighthouse.

Exiting the turtle head garden area my dad snapped this photo of me in a cut out window. The asian gardens, as I mentioned before, are not one-view paintings. They like to hide their art. Make it more of a hunt. So at the beginning of each garden there is a screen or wall that just hints at the nature within.

Where else could I be a grecian urn.

Our next stop was a pearl processing factory. They make a pearl powered with the pearls too small for jewelry. The pearl powder is put into tea to help with anti-aging. I snapped this photo of the tea they offered us during their presentation.

Here they had found a way to harvest pearls that are not just pearl coated. Many cheaper pearls out there are made by inserting a small plastic ball into an oyster and then letting the oyster "clean" it for a few years to give it that pearl coating.

They look the same. In fact the only way you can tell a solid pearl from these pearl-coated ones is to x-ray them.

The process involves inserting actually oyster "meat" from another oyster into the new pearl-manufacturing oyster as the irritant.

When you think about it, pearls are pretty inhumane.

But... you know... they're pretty too.

I got a couple of necklaces. One that was about $20 and the other that... well it had to be claimed through customs on our return.

My mom spent a small fortune on a ginormous golden pearl on herself and some pearl necklace, earring sets for the girls. The girls though won't get these sets until they graduate from college. I expressed my concerns that college is not for everyone but it seems that is the line drawn.

After the pearl factory, we all hopped back into the bus and drove to Shanghai.

It was pouring down rain in Shanghai.

We drove around the city but didn't get out of the bus.

It was just too wet.

So instead we checked into the hotel much earlier than we had been expected. We ended up standing around waiting for our rooms for a bit. I snapped this photo of the "birds" hanging from the ceiling there in the lobby.

After that break at the hotel we went back out into the streets of Shanghai for dinner. It was our last trip out as a whole tour group.

We stayed another five days in China (Hong Kong actually) but the organized tour was ending there with that dinner.

After dinner our guide took us through the streets of Shanghai one more time. This time there was less rain so you could see further away from the tour bus. ALSO, the streets were all lit up with night lights. Sadly though, it's scary in Shanghai in dark, so we still didn't get off the bus.


Anonymous said...

Great photo of you in the garden Chris.

Auntie Kiki said...

So glad to see the finished product of your tour. Yeah, interesting stuff about the pearls. I had no idea that silk was so inhumane either! But, I'm over it. I love it anyway ;-)

Anonymous said...

I love the story your wrote about the fake pearls and the oysters, very interesting, I never knew that. Thanks for taking your time to share this with us, your readers:)