The Three Gorges

Fengdu - Ghost City

Three Gorges Dam

Dazu - Buddhist Cave Sculptures

Xi'an - The Terra Cotta Warriors

An Octopus's Garden?

Down On The Farm

Hong Kong


Choosing a China Tour

Master of the Nets Garden
Master of the Nets Garden

Suzhou (pronounced sue-joe) is known for its gardens, and Master of the Nets is considered the best.  Unfortunately, it was the only one we had time to see.  We had only a morning in Suzhou and needed at least a full day.

Sheraton Suzhou We stayed in the Suzhou Sheraton, and it was lovely, quite deluxe, albeit the floor plan was more than a little confusing.

North Temple Pagoda

North Temple Pagoda We climbed to the top of this nine story pagoda on the outskirts of Suzhou for a great view of the city.
North Temple Pagoda Buddha at North Temple Pagoda


In addition to its gardens, Suzhou is known for silk, and there are two mandatory stops on the tour route: a Silk Factory, and an Embroidery Factory.

Suzhou Grand Canal Farmer's houses on the Grand Canal leading to Suzhou.   The farmers reserve an entire room just to raise silkworms and often get up in the middle of the night to fetch them fresh mulberry leaves, the only thing they will eat.

Silk Factory

Silk Factory Workers making silk threads from cocoons, incredible.   Each cocoon is threaded on a bobbin that unwinds its silk filaments.  Above the bobbins, the filaments from many cocoons are merged to form a single thread.
Silk Factory The threaded cocoons bounce in the water, and when they stop bouncing, the worker removes them and threads on a new one.  The threads are so thin, and the girl's hands are so fast, the process is almost invisible.
Silk Factory Double cocoons are used to make silk quilts.  The newly made quilts must be stretched out, and it's much more difficult than it looks - we tried! Silk Factory

Of course we ended up buying - silk quilts, covers, matching pillowcases, and children's clothes.  The prices were a bargain, but the shipping costs were high.   Fortunately, our local guide Sue offered to mail our quilts herself for a much better price, and we were happy to take her up on it.

Embroidery Factory

Embroidery Factory The workers here embroider beautiful pictures and are considered artists; they train for six years, longer than doctors.  It was almost impossible to choose from all of the beautiful pictures for sale.
Embroidery Factory The threads being used to create the picture above.
Embroidery Factory A finished picture.  The artist's signature is at the bottom left..

Buying Embroidered Pictures

Our tour guide advised us to wait for the factory to buy embroidered pictures, and she was partially right.  The quality there was the best, but the prices were high as well.  So get the good stuff there, but don't hesitate to buy souvenirs elsewhere.  We passed up some good deals waiting for the factory and regretted it.