For our second free weekend, we decided to stay in Shanghai and explore some of the local sites. We invited any students who wanted to join us and spent a wonderful day in Qibao (*Chee-Bow). We were able to take the metro to this place and only had to transfer to one other line. The streets were crowded with people, and we were able to enjoy our first sampling of famous Chinese street food. I played it safe with a vegetarian scallion potato pancake, while the students got more daring with squid and meat skewers.
For our first weekend day trip, Richard and I decided to treat ourselves to a guided tour of Tongli & Suzhou. Tongli is a water town known as the "Venice, Italy of China." Suzhou boasts of its beautiful gardens. These towns are about an hour from our Jia, but due to the congested traffic, it can take up to two hours one way. Our drive out took about 1.5 hours, but the drive back was about 2 hours because we returned to Shanghai during the dinner rush hour.
It was so nice to be taken care of all day by our tour guide and driver. We were picked up at 8:30am by our driver and our tour guide. I was amazed that the car was so spacious - a minivan for just me, Richard, and the two others. The air conditioning was a definite plus because it has been so hot here. I also really appreciated the details that they included like providing water bottles for us in the car. Our guide Nora was SUPER helpful! I highly recommend Jenny's Shanghai Tours. They were so easy to work with via emails and the tour was well worth the money. Nora bought all of our entrance tickets to the venues and the boat ride, treated us to local delicacies, and ordered our lunch. She also spoke English very well, and explained so much about China and its history during our day together. At the end of our tour, the driver also dropped us off at our favorite Western hamburger spot that we found in Shanghai, The Habit! It was a perfect day!