Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province, China (Apr’09 Day 1 & 2)

It has been an exciting, enjoyable, eye-opening and educating one month China trip for me and my family in April’09.  As it was my first time going to China with my parents and siblings I was real excited and looking forward to it.  We travelled on our own without taking any tour group package, and paid only SGD590 for a round trip airfare on Singapore Airlines.  5 hours on flight and we arrived at Pudong Airport, welcomed by the cold breeze and our cousin with his friend already waiting to pick us up in their van.

Our first stop was Kunshan, and it took another 4 hours from Pudong Airport to reach our hotel destination.  During the drive, I noticed that the driving side is on the left.  And the vehicles plates all start with the province followed by alphabet then number, eg. E.N1J45 which means this car is from 苏州 (Suzhou).  K.J3N83  is from 北京 (Beijing) and so forthIf the plate is red, means the vehicle belongs to the army.  In Kunshan, taxi meter starts at RMB8.00, whereas in Shanghai it’s RMB11.00.  It will start increasing RMB2.50/mile after the 3rd mile starts.  Taking a cab from Pudong Airport to Kunshan will costs about RMB350 (approx).

Upon arrival, we realised we had underestimated the weather there thinking our cardigan would be enough to keep us from the cold, but we were so wrong.  We had to put on windbreaker on top of our clothes and sweater.  The wind was especially chilly in the night, not even the windbreaker could help keep us warm.

Day 2

We visited 周庄 (Zhou Zhuang aka Venice of the Orient, a floating village of low stone houses with narrow pathways and stone bridges.  There are many shops selling souvenirs, antiques, paintings and accessories all priced very low compared to the city, as well as tea houses and restaurants.  The most famous dish in all the Zhou Zhuang restaurants is the Braised Pork’s Knuckle 万三蹄, which is named after 沈万三 (Shen Wanshan)And it’s through a painting of Zhou Zhuang by a famous painter 陈逸 (Chen Yifei) this ancient town became famous.

The story was told to us by a tour guide representing this ancient town.  She’s so learnt in the cultural and heritage of the place that you can’t help to admire her for her knowledge.  Every word flowed from her mouth was as from the pen of a master, like the Chinese idiom 出口成章, haha :-D.  I sincerely complimented her for her knowledge and was told she had to sit for exam so as to be qualified as a tourist guide.  Wow, you have to be there to listen to her lengthy description for yourself to believe it.  After the 20-30mins guided tour, we continued at our own pace to explore the place on our own, so travelling on our own has its advantage.

To be continued…

 … how the braised pork knuckle dish got its name 万三蹄 from a wealthy man of Jiangnan (South of Yangtze River) by the name of 沈万三 (Shen Wansan) and his relationship with the Ming Dynasty Emperor 朱元章 (Zhu Yuanzhang).

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