After a 14 hour non-stop flight from Chicago to Shanghai, we boarded our 40-passenger bus (there were only 17 of us on the first part of the trip) for the two-hour bus ride to Suzhou. We had our first of many delightful Chinese dinners, the menus personally selected by Yulan, our tour leader. Our hotel for the first three nights was the Bamboo Grove Hotel, which had a pool, foot and total massage services, and a wonderful buffet breakfast with choice of Chinese, Japanese, and western foods (true of all the hotels in which we stayed).

We visited a silk factory, embroidery factory, the Sandalwood Fan Factory, wandered the downtown area, and took a water taxi ride in Mudu Town (Shan Tang Jie) during our three-night stay. How can we forget the midnight ride the ladies took to a local seamstress/tailor shop, where some were custom fitted for wonderful Chinese silk jackets and outfits!!  After we checked out of the hotel, we visited a pearl cultivation center at Wuxi, and the Yixin Purple Clay Teapot factory. Our next stop - Nanjing.

Photo credits: Terrianne Taylor
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Suzhou - Our first Chinese dinner
Two-person loom...
...second person at top
Sorting the silkworm cocoons
Collecting the continuous threads
Complex machinery!
The photographer getting photographed
The layers of the silk quilt
Taxi, anyone?
The embroidery workshop
The gate of the walled city of Suzhou
Sawing decorative perferations in fan
Wood burning design into fan
Shan Tang Jie
Shan Tang Jie - wash day
Afternoon siesta
Imperial garden
Yixin Purple Clay Teapot Factory
Stacking the huge piston-driven kiln
Barges on the river