China Trip - Suzhou & Hangzhou

On a canal in Suzhou

“That was hella expensive.”

Day 4 we had done a day trip to Suzhou (苏州)to check out the gardens and the canals. We checked out the Suzhou Museum (苏州博物馆,free) and the Humble Administrator’s Garden (拙政园, 70 RMB, high season price) which were both nice. We decided to end the night with a boat ride.

We took a boat ride from the Renmin Bridge (人民桥) around half the city for 120 RMB (that’s 18 USD). A tourist trap. For those who don’t know, 120 RMB is a lot of money (it cost only 82 RMB to take the high speed train from Shanghai to Suzhou round trip).

Why did we agree to the price? At first we didn’t, we stepped back and said, “Wow that’s expensive.” I saw the sign, it clearly had 120 Yuan written and I thought back about how Lonely Planet said you shouldn’t argue about prices that are clearly listed.

That’s bullshit. A ridiculous price is a ridiculous price, having it listed just makes it official. But we were already there and in a lapse of judgment we got tickets. The boat ride itself was pleasant, but gnawing in the back of my mind was the thought, “Did we just get ripped off?”

That feeling, knowing someone out there has one upped you and that person knows it too, sucks. I had a talk with the girlfriend and we vowed from that day forth, to not be taken in again. 

Days 5-6 were passed in Hangzhou where the famous West Lake (西湖)resides. The lake itself was very pleasant, I especially liked the willow trees and the Yue Fei Mausoleum (岳王庙, 25 RMB). After the Suzhou incident, I began to notice a certain roughness developing in my manner: blocking off people trying to cut in front of line, bumping into people and not saying sorry, saying thank you only in key situations.

I also realized a directness in they way I asked for things, almost borderlining rudeness. But the most surprising thing out of these interactions was that I felt closer to the Chinese people.