Suzhou Chinese Spring Festival Celebration


Yep, you got it!  Fireworks were set off for about a week and i'm not talking like 4th of July in the United States fireworks.  Imagine that times 10 every hour of the night.  It was spectacular!!  We've never seen/heard anything like it in our lives.


After a hot breakfast, we set out for another 6 hour bike ride back to Suzhou.  This was the coldest day we have had since arriving to China.  Faced with strong, cold headwinds, we pedaled back 45 miles to Suzhou along the waterway.  Mark almost sat down and cried but I told him "keep pedaling".  No, just kidding, he is an avid biker, ain't nothin gonna get in his way. Actually though, we both felt like throwing in the towel and catching a bus but we didn't (because there weren't any).  We just kept pedaling...
Once we saw that Suzhou was near, it began to snow.  We pulled up back to the same hostel we stayed in two nights before and crossed our fingers they had an extra room.  They did!  We went to sleep only to wake up to LOUD BANG CRACK BOOM!!!!  fireworks? right under our bedroom.  

Jiaxing, China

Happy Chinese New Year!   While we were in Jiaxing, I was in search for a table cloth for my sister Barbara which brought us down to this market.  People had packed up and headed out for their home towns so, the market was pretty slow but, I did find a beautiful batik tablecloth.  The top photo is of red chinese lanterns, which you see decorating all the streets in every small city in China right now.
We made it to Jiaxing after 6 hours of pedaling along very quiet roads.  This is Chinese New Year and everyone is traveling home so, occasionally we saw bunches of people walking, carrying red bags full of fruit for their families.Patrick and Laurelyn welcomed us in their parking lot with their camera ready.  My eyes felt like sandpaper here  because of all the dust and wind along the way.  We headed up to their apartment for some hot tea and cookies and spent two days here talking about our experiences in China, eating delicious homemade meals made by Patrick, and drinking plenty of coffee.  They really know how to make people feel at home.

After riding for 3.5 hours, we made it to our hostel in Suzhou.  We have stayed here about 3 different times now because the located in the center of town and it's surrounded by old canals.  Here is the view from our window (It's a lot cuter than what the pictures show).  We met a couple staying in the room next to us who were studying chinese in Beijing and that night went to dinner at a quaint dim sum restaurant down the road. Then we passed out for the night under tons of blankets.

We have a break this week and are taking a bike trip 75 miles south to Jiaxing, China to visit family (Patrick and Laurelyn).  This will be practice to see how well we can navigate our way from one town to the next, how well our bike bags will hold up and what tools, etc. we might need for a longer trip.


Shane staff party

The school had a party for all the teachers last week.  The top two photos are of a masked man who changes masks in the blink of an eye.  There was lots of great chinese food, a magician, and a few drinking games.  Tomorrow we will be headed to Jiaxing on our bikes to visit Lauralyn and Patrick.  


Sometimes on our days off we just like to pack up our coffee and some cookies and walk for hours. A few weeks ago we were walking and heard marching band type music.  When we got closer and saw people dressed in velvet robes walking in a circle, we realized it was a funeral.
You can see from the photos how much tearing down and building is going on here.  In 20 years, this town will look like Shanghai with skyscrapers everywhere and an extensive underground metro system. 


The camellia's are in bloom here and we went on a search to find some.  

As we were walking up the mountain, this man in the picture asked Mark in English, "would you rather be a mountain or a river?".  


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