A few weeks ago I went to the opening of an outlet mall in Suzhou (random, I know) and there was a performance by Australian dance and theatre group Strange Fruit. It was downright amazing. They were swaying back and forth on these 5-meter-long poles, and it was completely beautiful, mesmerizing, memorable.
The promotional material said their performance “fuses theatre, dance and circus.” It totally does.
Downtown Suzhou is a historic area under cultural protection. Therefore there must be rainbow-colored lights and ridiculous lit-up sculptures! Oh of course. Welcome to China!
In all seriousness though, Suzhou’s a lovely town with that crazy Chinese mix of really old and insanely new, and even though it’s quite close to Shanghai, it’s oh so much more peaceful. Old Suzhou has some pretty canals, bridges, and traditional architecture, but it also has that fake touristy sheen that most historic places in China have. It seems kind of unavoidable unfortunately. It’s a nice place to take a stroll though … if you don’t mind the crowds, if you don’t mind the same ol’ trinkets being hawked in every other shop, and if you don’t mind that you feel very little sense of actual history.
I never knew what a loquat was until two weeks ago. Shocking, isn’t it? I think I might’ve heard of loquats before, but … that’s about it. When I took a daytrip to Suzhou a few weeks back with friends (because Suzhou’s only a half-hour train trip from Shanghai), I kept hearing references to 枇杷 (pípa). Er … what’s that? Oh, it’s a loquat. Er … what’s that? My friend’s father was driving us around Suzhou, so he pulled over to the side of the road and bought some. And then it was the group of us standing awkwardly on the side of the road holding these round yellowish-orange things like complete idiots. Uh, sir? How do you eat these?
So now I know what a loquat is. I know what a loquat is in Chinese. I know how to eat a loquat (the skin peels easily, then you eat the fleshy part around the large seeds in the center). And you know what else? I know that loquats grow on trees. Because we went up a hill and picked loquats. Neat.