Auchan crab grab

Supermarket Auchan had an activity with a high fun factor last month. Customers could grab their own crabs at Auchan from baby tubs : )! Plastic nets would prevent the crabs from climbing out. One month later they prepackaged the crabs, and closed the nets on the tubs. Maybe the the nets proved to be too inconvenient. The crabs don’t give up without a fight!
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Cycling to Mudu


Starting from my hotel in Suzhou New District, I cycled to Mudu. According to tourist guides this used to be an small old town favoured by aristocrats and even the emperor himself. Nowadays it is swallowed up by Suzhou. Is it a sight worth seeing?

Old Mudu basically consists of a three canals lined with houses. Along the canals there were small shops offering food, jewellery and silks. Although I passed on entering the tourist attractions–consisting of a few small villa’s and temples (many of them look the same)–Mudu as a town was much less interesting than Jinxizhen which I visited this spring or Zhouzhang. Less atmosphere, less restaurants, and less interesting walkways and bridges.

Much more interesting–if only in terms of diversity–was the Suzhou entertainment park– that I passed on my way to Mudu. Many of its buildings referred to different countries. I saw English and Italian buildings, and to my surprise also Dutch canal and gable houses! If only the decorations were more subtle…

Initially it was my idea to go hiking in the hills directly behind behind Mudu. But the cloudy skies made this less attractive: I would not be able to catch the nice panorama of the city as was my intention. Maybe next time.
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Suzhou panoramas

Last Sunday something extraordinary happened: Suzhou had crystal clear skies! A good incentive to explore the surroundings, so I though it would be nice to go cycling to the other side of the city, and maybe go hiking there. I booked a hotel in Suzhou New District–the western counterpart of Suzhou Industrial Park where I live–for one night and off I went!

Normally visibility is limited due to the high humidity and the air pollution. But this day sky was very clear. I brought along my camera to make a few pics of downton Suzhou. Perfect opportunity to try out my good old Pentax lens (Pentax-M 28mm f3.5). It did not disappoint me, great detail! Too bad that the next day was rather cloudy: remnants of a tyfoon that turned into our direction. As with all images here: click on them to load larger ones!


Can I get a better apartment?

The door frames were a bit loose in the apartment we visited

The door frames were a bit loose

After living for one year in my Suzhou apartment I though it might be time to move to a new place. Currently I live in a student complex. Although being surrounded by students all day does make you feel young, one also is prone to lossing touch with society as a whole.

My apartment was recommended to me by XJTLU. It is 1 of the 4 main apartment complexes that are used for housing students and some staff. According to the human resource office I was very lucky to be able to get into ‘Parfait International Apartment’. It has two major advantages. Firstly it is only 3 years old. It was not degraded that much, as is so typical of many Chinese developments after a few years. Secondly there was heating in the living room and in the bed room!

The city I live in is below the Chinese heating border that runs near latitude 33 degrees north. Above this the state provides subsidised central heating, since it freezes there in winter. Below this–which also means Suzhou–people have to make do with individual electric heaters, when it gets cold. Remarkably even at my university it is not uncommon to have (out)doors open all the time in winter and windows wide open, while at the same time running airco in the heating mode.

I was motivated in my search for a new apartment by one of my colleagues who lived in the same complex. My colleague had made an appointment with a real estate agent, to show him two apartments near the university, one new, one old. I was going with him, as was another colleague.

The first apartment being shown was previously used by three students. It was in an apartment block, that was not older then 10 years. Sadly it was totally run down! The window frames were almost falling out of the wall, the kitchen looked like a stable . . . Price 3500 Yuan. The second apartment we were being shown was brand-new. But again, the finishing and detailing were horrible, also it was rather pricy (5000 yuan).

The bottom line was that for the price and quality we were looking for it was rather hard to find something better. So for the moment I decide to stay at my current place!
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