Roya’s birthday and our crazy trip to Suzhou

24 Jul

Roya and I cutting her cake

While still in rainy Nanjing a week ago, we made a wise decision to go to Suzhou for a day, where the weather was nice and sunny (though a bit hot). It actually started out quite badly. The bad luck started when I failed several times to buy our train tickets.  First, I was going to buy them at noon when I went to buy Roya’s birthday cake but didn’t have time – that day (Sunday) we had an early surprise birthday party for Roya – she was very surprised and happy!  She and Milad was with my mom where she was staying until everyone came.  Then they all hid and I brought them and everyone jumped out and blew whistles and shouted happy birthday and Roya was in shock but so happy.

Some of our dear friends who came

And she got exactly what she wanted for her birthday – two lovely necklaces, two dresses, a purse, a pouch with mirror, comb and brush, a game and bilingual books (since she can read Chinese better than English, she reads the Chinese and then reads/guesses the English so it is actually very helpful).  She just loves girly things, takes out her little pouch and does her hair and lip balm anywhere and gets all excited 🙂

Back to the Suzhou tickets.  I decided to go buy them near our home after the party but forgot about it until almost 5pm.  At 7 to 5 I was going to leave but I didn’t know exactly where the place was so I asked Peiman to come with me but it took a little time for us to leave so we got there at 8 after 5 and they had closed at 5.  I was starting to feel like this thing was not meant to be.  But I gave it one more shot because my mom really wanted to go.  After a (late) dinner at a hot pot, I set off for the train station where they sell 24 hours per day.  I went straight to the self-serve machines but it had just turned 9pm and they were turning off after each person had finished purchasing his or her ticket.  Now I really felt something was telling me not to go.  Still I persevered but decided not to get the early 8:30 tickets but ones for 9:30 that were actually cheaper and better.

Well the next morning, we left one hour early and planned to take a cab to line one of the subway station and then subway to the railway station, a plan that had always worked for us in the past.  Well, first it was raining and it seemed there were no cabs; then slowly more and more people were trying to get cabs – it looked hopeless.  I was running from one direction to another while my mother stayed on the side with the kids (Peiman was planning to spend his day in the workshop). I was starting to get desperate so I called him to come help us and just as he came, I managed to get one, explaining to another lady that we really needed to get on. But then the driver said he would not go to the station I wanted to go to, or any on line 1 because of traffic.  Because I had done this several times before, I did not believe him and told him to go anyway but he started going to our nearest subway station on line 2. I got upset and told him to go where I asked so he turned around and went. Then I say the horrible traffic jam, the whole overpass completely backed up. We had another discussion and then he took us to where he originally said; by now, it seemed quite sure we would miss our train but I still desperately tried to make it, running down the stairs and forgetting my new great umbrella that my mom brought me from Canada in the cab. Well as we were getting to the platform, the subway train just left and knowing it would be six minutes before the next one and that now there was no hope of catching the train, I broke down and cried. To make a long story short, I quickly got a grip and managed to get new tickets once we arrived at the train station (though we had to upgrade and pay extra since there were no more of the trains we had wanted to take). We arrived in Suzhou at 11:30.

Roya looking out onto the river at a restaurant where we had lunch

Since I had been to Suzhou before with Peiman (though we had only gone to the small water village of Tongli) I had a map and good idea of how to get where I wanted to go. We went first to the walking street area and had lunch in a simple restaurant looking out onto the canal.

Looking out onto the pond

Then we went to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the largest and most renowned garden in Suzhou and very famous in all of China. It is over 5 hectares and very beautiful, with many lotus lakes and lovely gazebos. The kids liked climbing on the rocks and seeing the fish and a turtle resting on a lotus leaf.

Turtle on a lotus leaf

Climbing the rocks

Sitting by a lotus lake

Lotus view with pagoda in the background

After the garden, we went to Pingjiang walking street by a narrow canal which is a really nice area.  It has old stone bridges, and tea houses along the sides. We had our dinner in one of the rare restaurants with a view on the canal (although through closed windows).

On the way home, our adventure continued (unfortunately). We decided to go to the train station early so we didn’t have to stress out. When we looked at the display, our train was not listed; I looked at it at least three times and then looked at a static board that had all the typical trains and our train was there. There was no one around for information so I decided to the gate and ask there. As soon as I told the attendant that our train was not there, she said that train wasn’t running that day and that we could go right then on an earlier train (without seats). We went down to the platform and the train was just arriving and stopped quite far. My mother said to hurry but I saw the board say it was to depart at 7:24 and it was 7:12 so I said no problem. Well as soon as we got on it started to go! Lucky us, not only did we get on but since we were the last, we just sat in the two free seats that no one had taken. In fact, after the first stop a few people got off and all four of us had our own seat. A much better ending to a day that started out so badly :).


2 Responses to “Roya’s birthday and our crazy trip to Suzhou”

  1. Leah July 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    First of all, Happy BIrthday, Roya! I can’t believe she’s 8 years old. Where does the time go??? It sounds like she had an awesome day – please tell her we wish we could have been there to surprise her, too. 🙂

    I’m enjoying your updates and stories. Can’t wait to read more and see more pictures. It sounds like you’re starting quite the adventure with your mom. Have an awesome time!

  2. klarasadventures July 29, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    I know, I can’t believe she is 8 either! Thank you for the birthday wishes 🙂 Will write more updates soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: