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Wuxi

Yesterday, Nichole, Steve, and I decided we’d head to Wuxi, a nearby town that none of us had ever visited. We got on a bus, and away we went.

Located on the shores of Lake Tai, Wuxi is a famous historical town. 2000-3000 years ago, it was an important tin-mining city, though eventually the mines ran dry (the name Wuxi literally means “without tin”). It has managed to stay an important city since that time.

When we got off the bus, we decided to some lunch. The Sheraton Hotel restaurant was recommended in our travel book, so we set out to find it. As it happened, we stumbled across a Starbucks first, and since we were all a bit undercaffeinated, we stopped in.

Then we spied the Pizza Hut across the street, and decided that the Sheraton Hotel was probably overrated anyway.

After pizza, we went to a department store across the street, which had some things in Western sizes. I was looking for dress shoes, but the only ones that came close to fitting me were the long-toed “pimp” shoes. Oh well. I did finally find an electric beard trimmer (no more scissors!).

Then we went off to find a particular arts and crafts store (Nichole and I needs some supplies). Unfortunately, all we had was the address, and when we went to that address there was a monolithic Bank of China where we’d hoped to find the store. We wandered around nearby for almost an hour, but never did find it.

One of Wuxi’s biggest tourist attractions is the world’s largest freestanding statue of Buddha, which at 288 ft. is over 100 ft. taller than the Statue of Liberty. It is made entirely of bronze, and weighs over 700 tons. Surrounding it is an extravagant plaza with other statues, fountains, and other sights.

We decided we’d go see Buddha, so we hopped in a taxi and off we went. Instead of the 10 minute drive we expected, it took almost an hour to get there. The place was almost deserted (it’s the off-season), but Buddha was quite impressive. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera on this trip, so I don’t have pictures.

We went back to the bus station, and decided we were a bit hungry. The nearest food was McDonald’s, and Steve mentioned the idea of an apple pie. However, when we got to McD’s, they didn’t have apple pie. They had green bean pie, and sweet taro root pie, but no apple pie. Luckily, we found that they had pineapple pie, which was quite good.

Another bus ride home, and that was the end of Wuxi.

From what we saw, Wuxi is much more like Shanghai than either Zhangjiagang or Suzhou. There were big skyscrapers, but also lots of slums. It was dirtier, smoggier, and more crowded. It was a snapshot of modern China: steeped in history but frantically trying to modernize itself.

-Sam

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