On Saturday morning, Our Brady Bunch headed to the bus station at 6 am, smarter and wiser, having pre-paid for a nice air conditioned bus ride to Suzhou and expecting to find the evil voodoo doll (or whatever they found in that episode). We agreed to split up once we got to the hotel and we did so...it worked so much better for all of us to go at our own pace and see what we wanted.
I will sum up the day like this: beautiful classical gardens, the Cultural Revolution paraphenalia I had read about lining the streets (Mao watches, lighters, Little Red Books, t-shirts with him eating at McDonald's, propaganda posters, etc) and yes, lots of lovely women like the Lonely Planet claimed. In the afternoon it was so hot that Amy and I took a taxi back to our nice hotel room and watched an HBO movie about a street dancer, Honey Daniels, who saves her street kids by opening a studio for them. It was the worst movie ever, but we couldn't have been happier.
Later that night, Kim, Amy and I joined up for a boat trip that cruised the perimeter of the city in the smaller canal. We decided that in China you just have to keep making your own happy hour so we bought food to go (club sandwiches at a restaurant by the boats) and beer so we could have a picnic. A New Zealander businessman (buyer of cement), Richard, had decided to venture out of his hotel and so he and his food joined us. We were treated to 80 minutes of vegas lights along the water, with green lighted trees and beautiful temples and landscapes. For the last half an hour, we went to the top of the boat and were commanded to "duck" (in Chinese) every time we came to a bridge. The bridges came RIGHT over our heads...like blind mules in Venezuela, this would never happen in America!
After the boat trip, the four of us (Richard included) wandered into a night club with strobe lights and very loud European music. In the middle of the bar was an island, behind which danced about ten beautiful bikini clad women, complete with tassles and sequins (spelling it right this time). They drank and smoked while they served. We were shown to a table where we had our own personal attendant, a guy of about 20 or so, who wore a green night light ring which he swerved in and out, up and down, using perhaps the worst dance moves I have ever witnessed, dancing for our entertainment, I guess, and to serve us little wedges of watermelon and peanuts. His main job was to pour our beer in little tiny glasses every time they were emptied. It is evident that everyone in China has a job, but this was very peculiar and not to my taste. I don't like to drink a lot of beer, but I don't like an bad dancing attendant at my table waving a green light ring around, filling my glass every two seconds! I guess the girls were going to come out from behind the bar and dance on the pole but we didn't wait to see it.
Instead, we found a bar with pictures of Nirvana, Oasis, ACDC, David Bowie and the Beattles on the wall. Just our luck a punk band was just about to play. Amy just about flew through the roof she was so excited. She met the band, called "Broken Wing" before they took the stage...they were so nice and clean cut, except for one token long haired guy. They sang their first song, Green day's "American Idiot" to their largely American crowd, then went on to play Ramones and Sex Pistol covers. They had one original song (they played it twice to get mileage out of it) called "F--- Education." Every once in a while I stop and think about what has changed in the last ten years or so and so this seemed quite monumental...singing anti-American songs is perhaps a stepping stone to their own political criticism. Amy was their biggest fan "YEEEEWWWW, Broken Wing!"she was yelling in support.