16 August 2007 Suzhou #1 Silk Mill – Shiny – just for me!
Come to think of it – I should be putting in Province names along with the country. My history and geography sense is getting better, but it is still not great. There is a decent book on Chinese history that I will pick up at the airport on the way out. Generally, we are book buyers on trips. Excellent things to have – but can become an issue with weight after a while.
As you probably guessed – there is a day trip every day – sometimes more than one. Be warned. There are a lot of pictures in this post. If it gets to be too much – I may split it in two.
First up – gardens. Apparently the city of Suzhou is known for its gardens. Well known to the Chinese and full of tourists – so that the rest of us now know as well. I am finding the biggest challenge being to get photos that are not completely full of strangers.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden – full of small pagodas – winding paths (paved) and loaded with tourists of all flavors.
And if you are hungry –
You can buy the lotus roots to eat.
With the occasional peaceful corner, the kids and I just sat along one of the canals in the garden and waited out the rest of the group.
As it turns out, Suzhou is a city of canals –
With the river still showing the effects of all the rain and flooding. You can see the kind of broad, flat bottomed boat on which we rode.
But now we get to the highlight of my day – Suzhou #1 Silk Mill.
After a short discussion of the (very) short life of the silk worm –
We walked through an open production area – first seeing the very young worms much their way through chopped up mulberry leaves.
Eventually spinning themselves into cocoons
Which are then sorted and graded
Before being cooked (skipping the pictures of buckets of boiled cocoons and going directly to the reeling process where the cocoons in groups of eight are reeled together while continuing to float. in water troughs below the reels.
Then the smaller reels are combined to make the thread – that is an end number of 40 cocoons reeled to make one fine thread.
If the moth “wins” – surviving to eat its way out –or if two larvae do their thing together – which results in a mass that cannot be unreeled – you wind up with silk caps.
And here they are turned into silk comforters. Yes, the stuffing portion made of layers of hand stretched out silk caps and placed one on top of the other.
I took a side detour to look at the four lovely jacquard looms.
Would you want to work here for a base salary of around 100€/month?
But was not really interested in much in their showroom, I really could not see the point in a silk comforter. As it turned out, that was just the first of multiple sales rooms. The good thing was that I had almost no money and not a credit card with me. That might have been the bad thing as well. There was wonderful silk fabric as well as scarves and clothing. I did find some silk embroidery threads – but no silk caps for sale. George tried asking, and the sales people could not understand why anyone would want to buy cocoons or silk caps. A couple of small bags became my souvenirs.
Sadly, we left well before I was looked out.
The last stop of the day was the Master of Nets Garden. No waterways –no lotus blossoms, just intriguing natural stone to contemplate and wonderful wooden buildings with fascinating carvings.
Since the tour is full pension – I probably don’t have to tell you that we had the usual number of meals today.
And in case you are wondering where on earth is the knitting content – socks on the bus!