Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fascinators and the Other Curiosities on Wedding Street

In my mind I have created short bucket list for my time in China and my experience as an expat.  This year I am very excited to attend my first Melbourne Cup (horse racing) party with some of the women from our apartment compound and to cross another thing off my list.

Part of my ensemble will include a fascinator, which as my Australian, Scottish & British friends know, is a headpiece.  To shop for a fascinator two friends and I headed to Suzhou's Wedding Street to go on a treasure hunt.

As the name suggests, Wedding Street is lined with little shops selling wedding dresses.

Before my friends and I had started exploring the first alley, this gentleman came up to me and motioned that he wanted to have his picture taken.  I was happy to oblige!

We saw all kinds of dresses.  Some were very fancy, others were whimsical and a few reminded me of the 1980's.

We did find a handful of shops that sold hats, headpieces, fascinators, jewelry, feathers, bows and costume jewelry.  Being in China, the majority of what we found were limited to red (China's favorite color) and white (a now-popular bridal color in China).  We did find a few other choices and we enjoyed trying on the pink, purple, blue, black and green fascinators we found.

I felt very Jackie O with this hat/fascinator on.  And, I also realized how desperately I need a hair cut.  Yikes!

A few choices of fascinators...

Another bridal shop in the row.

It looked like several of the shops had additional dresses on the second floor or were sewing dresses.  I took this picture right after someone had thrown a bunch of scrap fabric out the window to someone waiting below.

Feathery and pink, but not my favorite.

I like purple, but I don't think this is "the one".

Peeking down another alley

And, I now know where the scrap fabric and discarded mannequins go for their final resting place.  I only saw two rats as we were wandering around.  It's fine.

We asked one shop owner about hats and she took us through this little hole between her shop and the one behind.  I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

The streets around the bridal shops were just as interesting.  Tour buses coming to unload people on their way to visit Tiger Hill, a lady selling scarves, a vendor roasting chestnuts and the hustle & bustle of a busy street.

I ended up purchasing two fascinators, a pink one and a red & black one.  I'm not sure which one I'll wear (I need to decide on my dress first).  The race is next week, so I need to decide soon!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Big Pants Update

No, this has nothing to do with the status of my wardrobe, thank you very much.  "Big Pants" is the nickname given to the large gateway tower that is being built across the street from our apartment compound.  I'm sure the architect is thrilled by that nickname.

Here are some side-by-side shots of what our views of the neighborhood were when we moved in 2011 and what it looks like now.

Looking north at the Korean neighborhood center:

Looking down at Modern Ave:

Looking out at Jinji Lake and RainboWalk.  All of the
trees in the park between the Crowne Plaza Hotel
RainboWalk have been removed.  And now, there is
temporary housing for the workers where the 
weekly laser light show took place.

 Looking south at the "Pants" building.

2011 the building was just getting started and you
could still see green grass.

 My view from the girls' bus stop before we left for summer holiday:

And now, everything is several stories taller:

The view from our living room.
I think this will become a road so the workers can drill
underneath the intersection.
This used to be a park along the lake.  The blue houses
are temporary rooms for the workers.
Cranes & concrete
Can you see the yellow helmets of all the workers?

This is the intersection I have to get through to
go on my run.  I try and time it just right.
This is what the finished product is supposed to look like.  Our apartment compound is to the right (north & across the street) of the Big Pants arch.