I slept until 6:30 am!!! THIS is a wonderful morning! Since we got here we have been up at 5am every day. The jet lag is putting us to bed early and up even earlier-but we’re getting this! Totally going to be back to begging for more time in bed by tomorrow ūüôā

We met Nicole and Gary downstairs for breakfast at 8am to be ready for the 9am call time. Again, very western breakfast-and Nicole is up to her usual tricks. She peals 5-6 hard boiled eggs- and eats the whites. Leaves the heap of shells and yokes on her plate like an egg massacre. ¬†People stare. It’s a whole thing.

We leave the hotel and go to a fresh water pearl farm for a display and of course-shopping. Gary gives us our mantra for the day-“I will not get roped in, I will not get roped in….” and away we go. The display was cool-the large 10-20 year old clams hold between 10-20 pearls of different colours-pink, purple, white and black with the most desirable being the rare gold color. They proudly show us the pearls, stringed and made into earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings and then show us face creams ¬†made from powdered pearls. The face cream is nice-but I’ve never been much of a pearl fan. I’m all for handed down pearls as heirlooms, but I have never been a fan of just a string of pearls. ¬†So no worries of me be being up sold here. ¬†The creams are smooth but not fantastic, so after much debate and no lack of trying from the sales team, (I think after the silk bedding debacle we are now those people that the staff is told about before we even arrive) we decide to head back outside to board the bus. ¬†On the way out-a vender meets us just on the other side of the exit with fruits and vegetables and a few very random trinkets. Gary and Nicole both hone in on a ¬†mechanical chirping parrot the vender has on display on his table. The “meowsiah’s” eyes light up. ¬†FOR MY CATS!! ¬†He has to have the stupid bird. We just spent 30 minutes steady being only mildly impressed by Asia’s finest pearls, only to have Gary clap and jump with joy at the sight of a fake bird. After some haggling, we take the vender down from 100yuan ($20) to 35 ($7) and Gary skips all the way back to the bus ūüôĄ

Off to lunch for a traditional Wuxi meal-this meal was family style again, but had about 10 courses from battered fish, coconut shrimp and fried potatoes to noodle soup (ūüėĀ) and candied pastries for desert. ¬† I think they are trying to get us super full so that we sleep for the entire bus ride this afternoon.

From here we have a 3 hour drive to the next city on the list- Hangshou. ¬†THIS was an amazing city-cleaner even then shanghai- and very beautiful. It’s a city-no question, tons of skyscrapers-but it’s around a beautiful lake area and seems to be a huge Chinese tourism draw even for locals. ¬† Here we are taken on a lake cruise-it was so beautiful and like most things on this trip-unexpected! I wasn’t expecting these areas to be so comfortable? I think that’s the right word? I feel safer here then in Halifax, and everyone was extremely¬†friendly. ¬†The lake cruise was a highlight for sure, but we didn’t book the extra excursion for the evening-a water show….. ah, no. ¬†We will shop thank you very much. ¬†But first… let’s try to eat somewhere…. and our goal is to eat traditional Chinese, that we order ourselves, from a restaurant, and NOT KFC. ¬†My theory from day one is that if we can’t figure out what to eat in a restaurant we just ask for a combo #1…? Right???? Well, I haven’t seen a single combo plate-and as I mentioned, no chicken balls-and no chow mien-since we stepped foot in China. This could prove to be quite a problem…. we walk in and are quickly handed a picture menu-perfect….. do we stand out or something? ūüôĄ We pick out some rice dishes-sweet and sour pork, kung pow chicken and spring rolls!!! -side note: when we were packing for China- we packed our usual condiments package. ¬†If you know me and/or my sister-or any Drover for that matter- you know we live on vinegar and salt and various other condiments. ¬†Cut me and I will bleed ketchup. ¬†So Nicole and I start our stash early-raping and pillaging MacDonald’s and A&W’s of their prepackaged bundles of french fry gold. ¬†About a month ago Nicole informs me that she has secured packages of soy sauce and plumb sauce for China. ¬†?????? ¬†Really??? And next time we go to Italy perhaps we should bring balsamic vinegar and pasta sauce packets? ¬†I made a smart comment about how ridiculous she is for even thinking of such a stupid thing.-fast forward to China. ¬†Here we sit. With naked spring rolls. ¬†They don’t use sauce!¬†So here we are in China…..Nicole breaks out her sweet and sour/soy sauce packets…. and I spend 25 mins pretending that I have no ¬†desire to use her delicious packages of Canadian Chinese food goodness. ¬†I stayed strong and refused to use them trying to look like ¬†prefer my spring rolls dry. But let’s be honest, I would have killed to use the sauce. Of course I love plumb sauce. I’m not a psychopath. ¬†As she reads this I can hear her yelling “I KNEW YOU WANTED THEM!!”. ¬†Humph. In any case, the meal was fantastic!! I even persuaded Gary and Chris to use their chop sticks for a few minutes!

After dinner, we shopped!! The shops here are VERY reasonably priced. ¬†We picked up some gifts and scarfs and more art supplies and-SQUEAL!!-we found Bacardi white rum!!!! Sweet baby Buddha! So exciting!! So we purchased a 40 of rum, 12 beer, a pint of whiskey, 3 1ltr diet pepsi’s and a 1ltr of sprite. How much you pay? It came to 200 yuan. $40 Canadian. And we happily clinked all the way to a lakeside bench for a nice sit down along the lit up waterfront area with a few beers. ¬†Then back to the bus for a quick ride to our hotel.

Our hotel tonight is beautiful!! When we walked into the lobby I again noticed people taking pictures of my husband. I’m thinking that this has to stop. It’s going to go straight to his head. Then I look around – I mean he is drawing a bit of a crowd! I look up-and written on a large banner I discover what Chris already has…. this is the conference location for the 2nd annual Chinese Hair Restoration Surgeon Association. I don’t think the staring feels quite as flattering for him this time…..

We again upgraded (people are really starting to hate us) and had an amazing suite for the night-headed over to the Hersey suite- lit some candles, opened some spicy tomato flavored potato chips while Gary called room service for ice and was told exactly how to get to the ATM machine…?!?….. and we poured a little whiskey. ¬†Eventually the ice showed up and we discussed the trip this far. There was a squat toilet bathroom demonstration from the girls… boys just don’t understand how logistically challenging this is for girls…. and eventually Gary did his usual… “well kids….*yawn*… get out”. And we left. ¬†Tomorrow is tea plantation and a flight to start our river cruise (and yeah…. we upgraded!! Confirmed this morning!! Balcony and private dining!!! And now we have rum. Unstoppable!!).