This is the third part of my long-winded story. Read Welcome to Shanghai for the first part of this series and Second Shang-day for the second part. Fil and George were responsible for the photos in this blog.
October 27: Out of Town Excursion
A trip to Tónglǐ (同里) was not part of our itinerary. Initially, we booked a guide to tour Sūzhōu (苏州) and Zhōu zhuāng (周庄). They planned a nice itinerary, and charged us 550rmb per person to tour the area, inclusive of private bus, English-speaking guide, entrance fees and lunch. However, we realized that it was an expensive trip, so we decided to do it ourselves–commuting and all.
- MRT to Shanghai Railway Station, and bought round trip tickets from Shanghai to Sūzhōu – 80rmb per person for a round trip ticket.
- The trip was only 36 minutes, but we had to wait for the train to arrive (it followed a strict schedule) before boarding it.
- Upon arrival in Sūzhōu Train Station, we immediately looked for the bus to Tónglǐ. The bus station was right beside the Train station. Very convenient. We paid 80rmb per person — which included the entrance fee to the ancient water town. That was sold to us in a discounted rate, for the real price of each ticket was 100rmb.
- It took us 45 minutes to arrive at Tónglǐ bus terminal. We then need to ride an electric car to the site. Trip took around 5 minutes. – 2rmb per person.
- We were transported to another era in time! Tónglǐ was a relatively small town, and maintained for their local tourist. Not much foreign tourists in the area, and that kept the cost down. We visited their gardens, bought from shops, tried their pancake with chicken, and rode the boat around town (cost 70rmb per boat). It was fun!
- Then, we went back to Sūzhōu Train Station. From there, we took a taxi to one of their highly recommended gardens: The Humble Administrator’s Garden. Entrance was 70rmb per person, but it was worth it. The garden was well maintained, and quite relaxing. If only we have more time.
- After that garden, we took time visiting the nearby shops — buying items in Suzhou was certainly cheaper than Shanghai.
- We had dinner in Sūzhōu Train Station’s KFC. Their normal meal was composed of burger, chicken wings, and drinks.
- When we got back to Shanghai, we decided to walk along Huánghé Road again, this time to look for another food establishment. We found one, and the food was not bad.
- George went home ahead of us, and Fil and I proceeded to try another foot spa out. It was there when I met this Singaporean guy, Jay, who was in Shanghai for business. He shared his life with me, and told me about his travels. He travelled by Theme! He finished the Roman Empire (all the places conquered by the Romans in ancient times) and was currently working on the Silk Road. What an exciting way to visit places!
Lesson # 5: If you want to maximize your time, do not be afraid to spend more. Our day of exploration was fun and certainly inexpensive, but commuting around town takes more time than having a private transportation to cater to your needs. Think of your priority and go for it. I was satisfied with what we did, but I couldn’t help but think about how many more places we would have gone to if we had stuck with our original plan.
What we experienced that day was memorable. It was our first time to visit a rural town in China. Language is harder — you’ll need to know how to speak Mandarin — and I’m glad they had no problem understanding me. Sales people called me 美女, which means pretty woman. One even flattered me by saying 我以为你是上海来的，因为上海人讲话比较温暖 (I thought you are from Shanghai, because the speech of the Shanghai people is quite mellow and warm). 😀
one last day to go, and you can read about it here 🙂