Partly by design, and partly by chance, this ended up as a “shopping day”. The planned part was a visit to a “silk worm factory” in Suzhou. And when I say “factory”, I really mean showroom. The unexpected shopping expedition was when we went looking later in the afternoon for somewhere to have my haircut and my beard trimmed.

The visit to “Silkworld” was another part of the tour “compromise” I wrote about the other day. In exchange for heavily subsidised travel, food and accommodation, each day we’ve paid a visit to an attraction where it’s assumed we’ll all make a few significant purchases. As with some of the other attractions, some people have spent a LOT of money, while others have spent very little. The visit to “Silkworld” was another occasion where the women of the group have been deeply interested, while the men of the group have shown little interest, lurking around on the fringes. I actually did buy a scarf, the kind of scarf I’ve been trying to find for some time, and, as it was at a good price, I was more than happy. A few other members of the tour group suffered “shoppers regret” soon after they made their purchases, when they’d incorrectly calculated the exchange rate. There was a general feeling in the group too much time had been allocated to this factory visit.

After lunch we travelled to nearby Wuxi, and have pretty much had free time since arriving. Sue and I went for a walk down the street later in the afternoon in search of a haircut and beard trim. Thanks to Google Translate I was able to organise a really good haircut. There’s nothing terribly complicated about my haircut and beard trim (aside from the length) which is a good thing. But I have to see Google Translate has been incredibly helpful throughout the day, including with our next purchases.

Feeling satisfied with my haircut, we wandered another block down the street to a small suburban shopping centre. I’ve been thinking about purchasing some new frames for glasses for some time, so on a whim, we wandered over to the local optometrist and tried on a few pairs. You can imagine our surprise when we discovered the already heavily discounted frames were actually half price. Hence I bought a couple of pairs of frames I really liked, and when I return to Sydney I’ll take them along to my optometrist to see what can be done with them.

Earlier this evening the tour group had some further free-time, and so we wandered around the main tourist district of the city where there were lots of restaurants, lots of bars, lots of live musicians and live karaoke. As we left, I noticed there was still a large contingent of the tour group downing a beer or two at a local brewery. I sense there’ll be a few hangovers tomorrow morning.

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