Friday May 20, 2016

I’m getting behind. Again. As usual. It always happens when we’re on tour. I get too busy sightseeing, too distracted having fun, too bone-tired to stay up at night tapping words into my laptop when everyone else is snoring in bed. And, before you know it, I forget to keep this travel-diary up-to-date. I skip a day … then skip another … and now look at the mess I’m in: scratching around on Friday trying to recall what happened on Monday!

It’s not entirely my fault, I hasten to say. Internet connections (especially where we are now, on the Yangtze River, in the middle of deepest, darkest China) have proved notoriously unreliable. Anyway, the point is: I need to catch up. So how about I just tell you, briefly, what we did four days ago – and let the photos speak for themselves.

Is that okay? Okay.

Well, despite flying from Guilin to Shanghai on Sunday night, and getting to our hotel close to midnight, we still had an early start on Monday. (Being a tourist, you see, is tougher than you might think!) We gobbled our breakfast and rushed by coach to one of three huge train stations in Shanghai. (When you’ve got 23 million people in a city, you need more than one train station!) There we caught a bullet train, and sped (at 250 kph) past forests of high-rise apartment blocks to Suzhou – a ‘small’ city of merely 13 million, very old, and famous for its scenic beauty. A Chinese proverb says “In heaven there is paradise; on earth there is Suzhou!”

To cut a longish story shortish, we got all botanical – enjoying a leisurely wander through the Garden of Master of Nets … then did the same thing in the Garden of the Humble Administrator … then spent an hour or two strolling crowded footpaths along one of the ancient canals that crisscross Suzhou – before heading back by coach to Shanghai, where they’d turned the lights on, just for us. But more of that in my next blog …

STILL TO COME: China’s largest and most prosperous city, Shanghai, truly popped our corks … and it’ll pop yours, too. So don’t go away …

PEOPLE-NEWS: Four more ever-popular Yellow Ducks have quacked their way into new homes and hearts …

  • Catherine claimed our ‘Cereal Crime’ Award at breakfast yesterday – but it’s a little complicated. Tony, you see, had left his plate containing cornflakes on the counter while he went looking for toast. Then Catherine came along and started helping herself to Tony’s cornflakes, complaining to those around her: “I can’t believe how small the containers are they put their cereal in! They must have to keep refilling them all the time …”
  • John S earned himself our ‘Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave’ Award for getting his ship lanyard hopelessly knotted with his camera strap and raincoat, holding up the queue for just on 45 minutes.
  • Grant took away our ‘Abandon Ship’ Award when, following an excursion up a beautiful river-valley, he (and Catherine) got onto the wrong ferry-boat for the ride home.
  • Colleen received our ‘Smash & Grab’ Award – for grabbing me when we were in a Chinese ‘hanging coffins’ museum, and causing me to whack my head on a plate-glass window whilst attempting to inspect some human skulls. (I’ll probably live, but it’ll be a slow recovery.)

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.)

This entry was posted in 2016 China by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Great photos. Robyn, you are doing a superb job being Mum to all and co-photographer etc. as expected John, your account of MLM tour de force, is outstanding. Thank you both.

  2. Hi to Pam Strong, been following your travels with the photos and commentary, thanks for the blog guys, all very interesting. All good here, think winter arrived this weekend!! Bye for now, love Pete, Sayo and Maria

  3. Hi Coons.
    Wow awesome pics. Was that bird for real??
    And I mean the bird bird. Not the Robby bird on the next pic lol.
    Sounds an amazing trip. It’s a lot prettier than I imagined. Thanks for keeping us posted. 👍👌🤓😜💞

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