After touring some notable sights in the Jiangsu region for the past 2 days, I woke up this morning to see rainy skies which delayed my intention to go jogging along the shores of Yangcheng Lake. As unpredictable as weather goes, the rain soon cleared to give the first rays of sunlight for the day under cloudy skies. The cool weather made for a nice walk along the shores of the lake, which meant I was ready to go down jogging. I took the northern jogging route which took me to the rock-climbing wall close at the park. This landmark made for a nice rest-stop as I climber the stairs onto the viewing platform for a nice view of the lake and surrounding landscaped grounds. An organic vegetable garden was being built to educate the wealthy urbanites who travel to the resort for leisure on the importance of sustainable farming. There were also other interesting sights along the park such as a traditional replica of a water wheel and a village house. There were even ducks and a variety of birds which can be spotted around the park. After the short rest, I jogged back to the hotel, and just as I was reaching the hotel, it started to rain again, but fret not, I was back under the comfort of my room by the time the rain grew. I returned to the room only to find my brother still asleep, which meant I headed out to the Gold Lounge again for breakfast myself this time. Another satisfying breakfast later, I returned to the room to make the day’s analysis of the commodities market before heading for a warm shower.
By this time, I was fully prepared before waking my brother up for lunch which I had reserved a seat for 2 at their Chinese restaurant, called Yi Feng Court 頤豐閣. The meal highlight was of course the hairy crabs. It was not yet the best season for it, but they have started harvesting the crabs. After all, Yangcheng Lake’s crabs are the most famous. Besides these steamed crabs, we ordered a fried lamb dish, some more roasted pigeons, winter-melon and seafood broth, and traditional Kunshan noodles with roast duck. For 2 persons, we realized it was a lot of dishes and that was even before the dessert of glutinous rice pancakes with sesame and peanuts coating that we have ordered. The killer was the large portion of lamb, and it was too heavy on the lamb-smell for my liking. The hairy crab was served nicely with the special tweezers to devour these crustacean delights, and they even serve a tea to counteract the ‘cooling’ effect of the crab. Still wasn’t that impressed with hairy crabs, and just felt that since we were staying at Yangcheng Lake, it would be a regret to miss out dining on its specialty cuisine. The traditional noodle was the one dish that surprised me. Not that appetizing in looks with the dark gravy, the noodle was chewy and had that nice texture, in addition to it capturing the essence of the gravy and the fragrance of the roast duck. And it was special enough that I have yet to find such a flavour in noodle anywhere else. The dessert of glutinous rice pancake was amazing too, but we were too full to enjoy the dish. Overall, it was perhaps a nice dining experience made all the more worth it since I had the US$25 dining voucher from Fairmont.
We had gotten tickets from Kunshan South for the train to Shanghai Station at 2.24pm which meant after the heavy lunch, we returned to our rooms to grab our luggage and proceed for check-out while asking the concierge to call us a cab. However, they told me a cab was unavailable at the moment, and that was when we actually needed to take the hotel’s transportation to the railway station which costs us 100 Yuan for a one-way trip. It was a relatively steep fare in my opinion since the taxi I took to the hotel was only around half of that. Well, since we had no other choice, I took it and was greeted with a London cab (the manufacturer of which has now been taken over by a Chinese company) and again had the hotel’s water and newspapers on offer. Having had taken the London cab in London itself, it was not as interesting for me, but for my brother it was new, so I took it the extra fee was for the novelty factor then. We arrived with half an hour to spare in Kunshan South Station since traffic was nearly non-existent between the hotel and the train station. The station, while new, seemed a bit dark in my opinion, but it was clean and had good ventilation. Furthermore, there were clear signs which ensured I wasn’t lost. This time round, it was another G-series train which brought us to Shanghai, and I chose to stop at the Shanghai Railway Station which was closer to the city centre. For a fare of 39 Yuan per person, it was really affordable. Another thing of note was that this train had a sleeker nose, compared to the duck-billed version of the train that brought us from Shanghai Hongqiao to Nanjing. It seems that these are the moderate version and perhaps meant to travel between short distance cities. Interior wise, it was more similar to the D-series trains which was slightly narrower. The train arrived on time, and we were soon seated. Though no longer had we been seated for more than 20 minutes, we reached Shanghai. It was that fast, and I really could see people living and buying properties in Kunshan and working in Shanghai in the future, considering the convenience of traveling between these 2 points.
Arriving in Shanghai Railway Station, I can understand why my cousins referred to this station as the least desirable train station in Shanghai. While I did find the train station to be dark and dirtier than the one at Hongqiao and Shanghai South, it was still on par to the train station at Prague, for example. The only other drawback was the crowds on arrival. Other than that, I thought arriving at Shanghai Main Station meant that travellers get to arrive close to the city centre and some international hotels like the InterContinental in Puxi was within walking distance. There was also a lot of dining choices outside the station with several large shopping malls nearby, and a large square outside the train station. I do believe there was a metro/subway connection here as well, though we took the taxi which had a short queue on a weekday afternoon. This marks the conclusion of my travels in Jiangsu and we headed back to the apartment in Shanghai for a rest before my uncle who has arrived from Canada picked us up and drove us around town on a car. However, it just had to rain heavily that night due to a tropical storm reaching the city, and this meant we had to return home early. There was still tomorrow to look forward to in Shanghai before my brother leaves for Vancouver for his new school term and I take the chance to visit my cousins in Beijing.