This is another Jiaxing Express Guest Post by Martin and Lynne, who are visiting us (Ed. note: Still) as part of their Grand Tour of China.
Well, after a busy week, involving walking hundreds of kilometers, eating lots of dumplings and guzzling lots of TsingTao, we spent today with Terry, while Geoff very kindly stood in for her at school as the vice–principal. (Ed. note: Just to clarify not vice-principal, just a warm body occupying a chair – don’t want to get in trouble with the union…) Today’s trip was to the Communist Party Museum in Jiaxing and the Southern Lake.
It seems that the Chinese Communist Party was founded in Jiaxing in 1921 because, as they were meeting a few days earlier in Shanghai, they got busted by the police. Hastily repairing to Jiaxing, by train, they met on a junk in the middle of South Lake to sign the final founding document – clever, no? Hence the Museum in Jiaxing.
Said Museum is a monolithic, Stalinesque building in the middle of a huge square/park, overlooked by a spanking new soccer stadium (no Jiaxing soccer team yet, though).
So figure this, we march up to the entrance where a guard points us towards the ticket office, where we duly go. At the ticket office, they give us tickets at no charge – the people must be allowed to see the Museum, after all. So, back to the entrance where they punch the ticket and in we go. Get that? No charge, but you need a ticket. Anyway, having been forewarned by Terry about the audio guide, we go up to the desk and ask for two guides. There is a large sign in Chinese and English stating the cost – 10 yuan and 200 yuan deposit, which will be returned at the end. So far, so good. Turn on the audio guide. Chinese. Whoa – can you switch this to English? Blank stares. Finally, they open the drawer and remove the money we gave them and return it. A young Chinese lady offers to help – but no, despite the detailed English sign, there is no English audio guide available. So, we go around looking at old pictures and lots of patriotic Chinese captions, understanding nary a word. We did postulate that the large steam train on the third floor was the one they escaped to Jiaxing from Shanghai in.
From there we take a lovely trip on the South Lake; there is an island in the middle with the above referenced junk still moored in the water. From there to the other shore, and up the Hangdu Pagoda for spectacular views of the old part of the city. Jiaxing has lots of trees and canals, giving the flavor (in parts) of an old Chinese city. Off to the city centre for lunch and home.
Martin went to the local electronics store and bought an 18 yuan ($3.50) card adaptor for a PC. Three people were summoned to unlock the security device (!). Then we proceed to a till where a computer screen is filled out with much typing and theban A4 size receipt is printed. This receipt and Martin are then taken upstairs by a sales clerk, across the store to the back, to another clerk. More typing (is Typing a province?), hand over 18 yuan, receive unsecured item. Ah well, it’s full employment I suppose…..
These past few days have been interesting from a military perspective. Practically non-stop overflights by fighter jets, even until the early hours of the morn. We have been checking the news daily to see if some international faux pas has occurred, such as one Korea shelling the other, or vice versa. Our children claim it is the elite of the Chinese air force trying to spot Lynne’s red hair on Jiaxing’s streets.
So here we sit blogging and watching Survivor, sipping wine and eating cheese. Alas, no interesting signs to photograph today. Tomorrow takes us to Xi’an, the First Emperor’s Tomb and the Terracotta Army. Stay posted!