Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 14 (January 13)
Before heading back to Suzhou, we had a full day planned in Suzhou. The first stop was a large duck farm that sold approximately 150,000 ducks each year. The room where the baby ducks were housed was heated by pipes with hot water throughout the room. The farm was located along the water, which made it especially cold, yet there was still no electric heat at the facility. Next up, we visited a tea farm where all the tea leaves were picked by hand. When talking to the owner, we mentioned the use of large machinery to pick help with the work. This seemed like a foreign concept because labor in China is cheaper than purchasing equipment. Additionally, the bushes were not planted in rows or any sensible order which would make the use of large equipment virtually impossible. To wrap up our time in Suzhou, we visited the Suzhou Silk Institute. Here I witnessed the process of making silk from silk worm cocoons. The silk worms spin a cocoon, and the cocoon are then spun back out. It takes eight cocoons to make one thread of silk. These eight cocoons are woven together and then dyed to make into clothing, purses, jewelry, and blankets. Thankfully, there was a large store full of silk products for purchase, and I was able to collect many things to remember this part of my trip to China. After finishing our journey in Suzhou, we drove back to Shanghai. Although it was a pretty long bus ride, you can always count on FFA members to find a way to occupy the time with some stand-up comedy and karaoke. After arriving in Shanghai, it was time to catch a boat for a night tour of the city on the Yangtze River. It was once again cold outside, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying the beautiful sights of Shanghai. As can be expected from a city with a population of 19 million, there were skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. Thanks to the many large buildings and the Chinese people’s love for neon lights, the city was absolutely gorgeous at night!

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