City Tour Extreme: Day Two, Yangzhou and Suzhou

From my last post you might remember that I wasn’t too fond of the city tour. You know being stucked in a small bus with an insane tour group, a tour guide with the voice of a howling monkey and last but not least my mother-in-law are not the best combination for an enjoyable holiday. But it all can get even worse…


The second day started early in the morning. We had to get up at 5am to get breakfast at 5:30. Too bad though that the hotel usually doesn’t provide breakfast till 7am so they only had a few things ready such as some cakes from the previous day and mantou, tons of mantou. Reason for this early time was that we had to go still to two other cities on that day. In our original plan we would have gone to Yangzhou already during the previous evening, making this second day much more relaxing but you know who cares about a tour group plan anyways as this one was changed all the time. At breakfast we realized that it wouldn’t be such a warm day so we put on some warmer clothes as the temperatures had dropped from 26 degrees celsius down to 18 degrees and the tour guide advised to take umbrellas with us. This all was not a problem, yet.

Arrival at the Slender West Lake

The bus trip from Nanjing to Yangzhou was nothing special, just the usual trash flying around, the howling monkey tour guide screaming into the microphone for 1 1/2 hours and the terrific driving skills of the bus driver making sure that no one was able to sleep. In Yangzhou we went straight for the Slender West Lake which is a wonderful place despite the ocean of tourists marching around. It all started pretty well there as I could take some great pictures of the flowers and area but then it all went south when the clouds decided to create first some drizzle and then a downpour.  Now the umbrellas we packed extra for this trip became very handy except…except that MIL had put them all into the suitcase which was in the bus as she thought that we wouldn’t need them (because why would she listen to a lowly tour guide).

They all have umbrellas and they all are rushing for safety

Somehow we manage to not flow away with the water during our 3h stay at the Slender West Lake and were allowed to enter the bus again. By now our clothes were soaking wet and it was cold, very cold while as all other people in the tour group were fine as they had the umbrellas as advised by the tour guide. From the Slender West Lake we drove to Suzhou, a very lovely 4h bus trip. During this bus trip the rain got less again and once we arrived in Suzhou at the Tiger Hill we were ready to go to Yunyan Pagoda which is also known as the “Leaning Tower of China”. But as soon as we had left the bus and walked 100m the next downpour started and we just went back to the bus. Sure we had this time umbrellas but we had just no energy to do this with such bad weather. Only half the tour group went to the Pagoda and they all didn’t look too happy once they were back with wet shoes.

One of the main buildings

Next on our list was the Taihu Wetland Park in Suzhou. It was planned that we stay there for a few hours going around the area but due to the bad weather we only took a 20 min boat trip around the channels. By now we were just so exhausted and cold that I did not even bother taking pictures anymore. We only wanted to get to our hotel and rest. Thankfully our howling monkey tour guide showed some mercy and we went from the Wetland Park straight to the hotel which was surprisingly even very good. Right next to the hotel we found a shopping mall where we could eat some dinner after surviving hell during lunch time at one of those infamous tour group restaurants.

Did you had bad weather ruining an entire trip?

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40 thoughts on “City Tour Extreme: Day Two, Yangzhou and Suzhou”

  1. Sorry that you had a terrible tour, again. Why would your MIL pack the umbrellas in suitcases?! Well considering your MIL I shouldn’t be surprised..
    I have had two such experiences where my trip was ruined because of bad weather. The first was in Zakopane, Poland last year. Zakopane is a cute, well-known mountainous town. There is a famous (and very beautiful!) lake called Morskie Oko in a national park near Zakopane. It was during the end of April, and we hiked uphill for about 2 hours to get to the lake, while it was drizzling and cloudy the whole time. When we got there, not only was it cloudy and rainy, the lake was still FROZEN. We couldn’t even see the mountains surrounding it. I was highly disappointed, my shoes were wet and I was just exhausted from everything.
    The second one was recently in Georgia. Georgia is a beautiful mountainous country in Western Asia and I was there just for the weekend. We had arranged private vehicle to go to the most beautiful areas of the country. Only that it was raining the WHOLE TIME! We made it to Mestia, a very picturesque mountain town after 5 years of driving, only to not see anything as it was rainy and cloudy the whole time.. I was highly disappointed as you can imagine, since I had been very much anticipating that trip to Georgia since months and months. People say it’s an amazingly beautiful country but sadly the rain and clouds hid all its natural beauty from me while I was there..

  2. That’s some intense travel. Still, looks nice 🙂

    Suzhou is nice, I plan to go next year, should I go to Yangzhou as well…

    1. Suzhou is very nice, at least what I could see through the bus window. Once again there was so much to see which we did not visit at all, really need to plan nxt year such trip on my own!

  3. I cannot imagine doing all this with a MIL and a toddler. It does look beautiful, but cold+wet=miserable.

    Who did MIL blame for leaving the umbrellas behind?

    1. She actually blamed her husband for not marking them specially or something like that 🙂 (i am not kidding)
      cold and wet is always the worst, especially when you realize that this will be going on for a few more days!

  4. You could’ve just gotten Marta in Suzhou, I’m sure a tour of Suzhou with Marta would be much better than being soaked in the rain with the crazy… never mind…

  5. Oh, poor you! The weather can sometimes ruin a trip, but if you had the bare essentials, like an umbrella, life would have been better. The umbrellas were not much use in the suitcase when you actually needed them.

    I sometimes like it when it rains though as it cleans the air and makes temperatures more bearable.

    Oh, do the tour buses in China have karaoke on them? They do in Taiwan!!

    1. Sadly yes, the buses do have karaoke in them and the tour guide misuses it at all times to advertise some trips 😦
      In xi’an I really like it when it rains as it really cleans the air a bit plus makes the temperatures more bearable but when we were there around Shanghai it just got too cold :p

  6. “Somehow we manage to not flow away with the water…” So funny 😀 It sounded like you all spent more than 3 hours there. I was going to suggest sharing an umbrella with the others who had umbrellas but from the photo, it looks like the umbrellas were small.

    Maybe the howling monkey tour guide also had enough at the end and so decided to go to the hotel straightaway. I can only imagine how cold it must be to be in wet clothes all day, and when you say rain, I’m thinking there was rain that could soak you in one minute.

    1. The umbrellas were really small, like very small, like ant size. When my dad used one of them (he is over 1.90m tall) it looked like he is holding a sheet of paper on a stick over himself…
      The rain was really nasty, at first it was just a drizzle which can be handled but it turned into this heavy downpour which flooded even some of the paths

      1. Now that is a small umbrella. I won’t be surprised if the rain made holes in some of them…

        Ah, when it pours, it pours. But the show must go on and your tour group did go on and see a few things 😀

  7. When I had a long layover in Seoul I decided to book an all day city tour, but after Thailand, it was freezing cold and rainy. I was ill prepared for this – I mean who flies with an umbrella, esp, if you are heading to Hawaii!

    Anyway, the tour bus provided umbrellas which I foolishly did not take b/c it wasn’t raining at the time. But it pretty much didn’t matter, everyone got wet unless they were really dressed for it. My socks were soaked, I wasn’t wearing proper shoes, really, just not expecting rain and ended up feeling pretty negative about the whole experience, but at least it was free!

    1. Oh sounds horrible. Yeah when traveling so long distances and having a layover in between you don’t really check how the weather will be there :p
      Thinking back about this second day of our tour I still feel cold suddenly..

  8. Oh god, Yangzhou and Suzhou in 1 day?? What kind of inbred orangutan designed this tour??? You basically couldn’t see much of any place with so little time! (And spending 5 hours on the road). And Taihu Wetland Park? Really? With all the UNESCO heritage gardens in Suzhou and they take you to that tourist trap?? SCAM!!!

    1. Lovely isn’t it? 🙂
      It was a total mess and it was even advertised as a “Premium Tour” and it damn well cost more than a tour to Thailand…
      I am myself still surprised who on earth selected those locations and created the timetable. It was just rushing from one point to the next and the citys were far away from each other. In Suzhou I would have loved to visit the gardens and guess what: It was on our actual plan for the tour which got changed out of nowhere…

  9. ha ha ha – amusing post, but genuinely feel for you, you poor thing….tour group restaurants, racing around like maniacs, MIL and rain…what a combination. But a positive for you – I loved your photos of the flowers, very pretty. No tour groups ever in China!!!!

    1. Tour groups are really the worst except you have our own tourguide/ plan everything on your own. Especially those group restaurants were really nasty, never had so terrible food in China in all those years.
      I will have more nice pictures in the next post which will include the lovely town Wuzhen 🙂

  10. Umbrellas in the suitcase on the bus? *LOL* I could really see that coming. The flowers really look beautiful, but bad weather can be such a bummer. When I was in Tokyo with Poul a couple of years ago, it was raining so much one evening, that we were stuck in a karaoke bar for several hours:)

    1. Lucky you, at least you could leave after few hours of rain. We were pretty much sucked withthis rain till the end of the trip!
      Rain is always an annoying thing when traveling, especially when you aren’t prepared for it eg. Decreasing temperatures…

  11. You have taken some lovely shots. I hope you have nice weather and your family and you are able to feast on good food on the next leg of your tour.

    I have lived in London for a very long time. I am used to the English weather. I was a member of an outdoor club (we did indoor activities, too). We had hiked in challenging terrains in the Irish Republic and ploughed our way through in blizzards. It helped that we had very experienced members on trips and walks. Some of the members had very young children with them but the latter had been on hiking trips with their parents on a regular basis.

    1. For us this bad weather came very unexpected. In Xi’an we had around 30 degrees celsius and on the first day in Nanjing it was still pretty warm with 27 degrees. But from one day to the other it all went south. Sure we had some warmer clothes but not enough in the end…
      When I used to go hiking I had at least always spare clothes in my backpack so I was never really surprised by weather changes as there in China

  12. Was Nathan with you during this tour??? If it was spring, at least the blooms were out. How did your father enjoy it all?

    As a touring cyclist, definitely hours of rain can be deadening on a trip. One just hopes the temperature isn’t too cold or a wind that’s too strong.

    1. Nathan was with us the entire trip. My father liked those three weeks in China except this city tour and a couple of other chaotic days.
      I also don’t really like bad weather when going cycling however rain is not even that bad when I know that I am only outside for a couple of hours. Wind is another thing though…more often than not I don’t even go bicycling when I see that there is wind. This is because here in north Germany are mostly only open farm fields offering zero protection against wind. In Finland there was always forest so wind didn’t really matter

  13. That IS quite an adventure right there! Did you get sick? I hope you didn’t…
    The “howling monkey” part still has me laughing. xD I am so sorry for laughing when you had such a miserable day. ;-;

    1. We all got ill at first but thankfully we had some medication with us and we were all fine in the end.
      THe howling monkey was just insane, will try to find a picture of her and post it at some point 🙂

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