Originally, I planned to participate in a meeting held in a different city however, due to complicated reasons it ended up being cancelled. However, my group and I did end up sleeping a night at the destination, 1am to 5:30am. At night, people were snoring, leaving a lot of us restless. In the early morning, people gathered in small groups engaging in prayer and praise songs. The accommodation given to us was very poor, the restrooms were very repulsive, and the sinks were all outdoor in one long row. Moreover, the living quarters were 20+ persons per room, with two rows of bunk beds. My friend jokingly said that this experience is probably the most painful moments in my entire trip in China. (这次聚会可能是你在中国期间，最艰苦的经历）Indeed, it was (at that time I had an embarrassing injury on my butt, which made the rough environment that much worse)
Here is something humorous. After we all ate breakfast, a person came up and started talking, it was difficult to understand his Chinese because of his thick accent and because I was having trouble resisting the urge to doze off. The congregation sung a song, and afterwards, I noticed individuals throughout the crowd crying, at first, I thought they were just being overly religious and emotional. Immediately after the song (宣教的中国), another individual came up to stage and dismissed the masses.
In front of the cafeteria, buses drove in to our location, and the people boarded. Still, a lot of individuals were sobbing and the atmosphere was a little depressing. I saw my friends hugging the announcer, and afterwards we hopped on the buses as well and departed. When we got to the metro station, my friend asked me how I felt about the whole situation, and judging from my blank expression, he laughed and said, “You know that the meeting is cancelled right?”
“上有天堂，下有苏杭” Just as there is paradise in heaven, there are Suzhou and Hangzhou on Earth. Suzhou is truly beautiful. Despite the fact that it was raining the whole time I was there, nevertheless I still enjoyed it all. The city actually reminded me a lot of the time I was in Kyoto, Japan.
Sumi Hostel (苏米青年旅社)
Since I traveled on a holiday weekend, almost all accommodations were booked, however luckily, my friends and I were able to reside here for a night for 50RMB. The funny side of it was that we were left to sleep on the floor. But come on! We are still young! You can only do these types of silly things for a short time. The next morning, we played some sort of guessing/detective game which was pretty fun.
Master Wang’s Garden (网师园)
The interesting part of this garden was the design of the rooms. Based on my understanding, a lot of the rooms had glass windows that were meant to represent a living portrait, and behind almost every glass window were some sort of tree and rock, which symbolizes mountain and forest, and in the eyes of Chinese people, these two themes represent the beauty of nature.
Ping Jiang Road (平江路）
With a lake running parallel to the various stores and restaurants, this tourist attraction is the fusion of natural beauty and modern art and comfort. It was so satisfying walking down this road and being saturated in its beauty and allure.
Suzhou University (苏州大学）
This university is just stunningly beautiful. Even in the rain. I am quite jealous of how much Nanjing University or even San Francisco State University is lacking in beauty in comparison to this campus. The raining setting made me reminisce the days I was in studying abroad in Taiwan University, both campuses have the same flavour and spirit.
Golden Chicken Lake (金鸡湖)
The vibe that this tourist place gives off leaves you feeling comfortable and at peace. At night, it is truly a stunning canvas of the distant city lights on the water. In addition, I might add that this is a rocking place for a date! I saw plenty of couples riding tandem bikes along the lake’s shore.
Suzhou Train Station (苏州火车站）
When I have a girlfriend or a wife, or whatever comes first, I am definitely coming back!
*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship