Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday in Shengze

Today we went to Mr Tang's hometown, Shengze. It is about 30 minutes from Wujiang. Mr Tang is building a hospital there and we were accompanying him to see the progress. We had no idea what we were in for. There were TV cameras, police escorts, and many dignitaries all waiting for him to arrive.
Mr Tang is here with the gray hair. We will get a better picture of him soon. We knew Mr Tang was important in this area (the main street in Wujiang is named after him) and they said the hospital is being built in the "village" Shengze, of close to 100,000 people, but we had no idea it would be like this!

A beautiful 500 bed hospital-a state of the art facility that has many special arrangements by the government. This is the projected picture in one year. They started it exactly one year ago, and are ahead of schedule. It was so crazy to be a part of this visit and see how well respected Mr. Tang is.

After the tour, every one loaded up in cars (vice mayors, town officials, hospital coordinators, etc) and we all drove (with hazard lights flashing so everyone would know to get out of our way) we went to a BEAUTIFUL restaurant in a high rise building. It was the kind of occasion that wasn't really appropriate to take lots of pictures, but let me just say, the meal was NEVER ENDING. And Mr. Tang had asked for a quick lunch. It was 90 minutes of tray after tray being served. They kept taking away our plates and bringing in more food. Just when I thought we were being served the main course, there would be something else put in front of us...always on a new plate. Besides that, the circular table also had a really nice glass lazy susan filled with other foods (appetizers, I guess. I thought it was the main meal) Danny tried these tiny little red things with spines that turned out to be DUCK TONGUE. I couldn't do it. Not with that many people watching. There was enough variety that there was plenty to eat. They put one dish in front of us and Mr Tang and Stella started laughing because they said it was a type of Tofu from that area, but they both thought it was disgusting. Stella couldn't even stand to smell it. We both tried some and it DID stink, though it didn't taste too bad. We could only stand a few bites, then they came with another plate of the same stuff, but this time fried...Not as stinky, especially dipped in hot pepper sauce. Then they came out with whole crabs on a plate for everyone. Danny is allergic, and Mr Tang is always very cautious of that for him, but I had no excuse, except that it was like the 8th course, and i couldn't eat any more. It was crazy to see all of these dignitaries digging into these crabs. It reminded me of Sebastian the crab on Little Mermaid. Whole thing, sitting there on their plate!
I could go on and on, but I now that pictures would have been more fun. It was an experience I am sure we will never have again.

After lunch, they sent a few of us to the main silk factory. This area produces 1/6 of the worlds' silk. We went to the largest of these factories, and got a tour from the general manager (who spoke pretty good english, thankfully) The process is amazing. These are the silk worm cocoons. They have to be in a certain temperature of water for a certain period, and the air gets taken out of them, then they go through several machines.

This brush gets the silk strands attached and then it goes through other machines to get the perfect amount of strands. It unravels the one individual thread and then combines them with other threads to make the desired thickness, then it is either woven or knitted into the fabric. It really was fascinating how the machinery worked.

The tour was quite extensive, and there was a store at the end with different apparel and quilts that you could by. The quilts had pure silk batting (like a down comforter, but much softer) and woven silk on the outside. Mr. Feng, one of the Vice Mayors of Shengze presented us with one of these quilts as a gift.

Yesterday, we found some great bagettes for about 35 cents, but the cheese selection was a bit sparse. It is a nice evening meal after such large and diverse lunches.
So this evening, while Danny went to do Mr. Tangs stretches with him, I ventured out on my own to the grocery store. I took some of the side streets to avoid the crazy driving, but went a bit too far on the side street and ended up in an area like this:

At one point I was in a dead end with an old lady who was brewing something over some coals looking strangely at me. Luckily she pointed the way out, and I quickly found the safety of the busy streets!
Tomorrow we are off to Shanghai-finally. We can't wait!


Perry Family said...

Sounds like an amazing experience so far...lots of wierd and crazy food, but with great company.

Kath said...

I'm glad you didn't get too lost...we might not have seen you ever again!
I'm so glad you are documenting all of this daily. It is fun to read about your adventures and share in your experience.


Danny and Friends Mountain Biking