Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time in Tongli

Another day trip we took with my mom was to Tongli, a water town south of Suzhou.  We’d heard good things about Tongli, but I was a bit skeptical.  I really like a part of Suzhou called “Ancient Street” (which in an earlier post I think I referred to as my Chinese Galena) and it was going to take something special to compete with Ancient Street.

Not sure what meat that is,
but we'll just keep on walking by.

Carving combs

Beautiful Tongli

Love the wooden bridge connecting the
two buildings.  It's fun to close your eyes and
imagine what life must have been like.

I shouldn’t have been so worried, Tongli was really fun and the whole family enjoyed it.  It is a very big area covering many city blocks and because we went during October holiday it had an extra dose of education thrown in.  Jamie called it his “New Salem” experience (we do seem to keep drawing parallels with familiar places in the States...).  It felt nice to be doing touristy things right along with the Chinese on holiday.  Chinese parents were talking to their children about the performers, artists and reenactments. just like we were with our girls. 

The paper cutting man.
There were alleys of little shops, food vendors, traditional Chinese musicians, a man specializing in paper cutting, another man who was weaving straw into animals, canal rides and lots of restaurants.  
When I think of traditional Chinese, this pretty much
sums up what I'm thinking.

I really, really wanted to sit by the canal and have a meal, but I don’t think our family has been here long enough to “stomach” (literally) that experience yet.  It looked so peaceful and families were eating together and enjoying each other’s company.  So, we settled for a boat ride instead (think River Walk in San Antonio) and that was the highlight for the girls.

Yup, she's 2 going on 3, can you tell?

Three generations of girls along the canal
Table after table of diners

Diners eating along the canal

Chinese outdoor Opera stage
An interesting side-note, in the middle of the town square was an opera stage.  Around the sides of the stage and the seating area were channels that held water.  Apparently by having water around the stage, it improves the acoustics for the people in the audience.  No need for a microphone!

Enjoying Stinky Tofu

Hairy Crabs, a delicacy around this area.
Food prep

We did sample some food from the vendors such as roasted chestnuts (yup, I hum the song to myself every time I see them), candy coated in sesame seeds, and some fried dough.  We stopped at an Italian coffee shop along the canal to eat some ice cream, which is always a safe bet if we’re unsure of everything else on the menu.  While we ate Italian ice cream, we listened to Cuban/Latin music and watched the Chinese stroll along.  A very eclectic experience!  This is where LBean tried the purple ice cream that was tarot root flavor.  A two thumbs down in LBean’s opinion.  And, we passed on the stinky tofu (while holding our breaths).

The view of the ice cream shop from our boat.
LBean fell in love with Batik too

I also managed to do a little shopping as well, which is fun.  If you read the What’s That? Wednesday post with the ceramic piggy bank, I bargained for that in Tongli.  I also discovered an entire shop of batik clothing and fabrics, I love the blue & white patterns. In one store I bargained for some scarves, one for me and the rest for Christmas presents.  Jamie and my mom purchased some water color paintings of Tongli by a local artist.

LBean practicing her business skills while Daddy
& Grandma shop for some water color paintings
As we walked along I saw or ran into several expat families that I know.  In fact, one family lives in our building about 10 floors down.  We’ve been here just long enough that we can be out and about and see people that we know.  It’s a good feeling.

1 comment:

  1. Love the walkways and carved combs... and the canal boats looked lovely.... the smiles on your faces are a joy to see. Oh, I miss you...