Two full days off and three days of evening shows. Kunshan was a well-needed break in our hectic tour schedule.
For those of you Mac obsessed individuals, you might find it interesting that the iPod Touch factory is located here. Be sure to stop by next time you are in the area.
The topic of this entry is the very exciting Ting Ling Park. After taking an oddly short ride in a taxi, Shavar and I discovered this popular spot was right behind our hotel.
As usual, the landscaping and horticulture of the park was enchanting. The Chinese take great pride in their gardens. Most every location we gravitate toward has a fee attached. As foreigners, we had to pay to enter. That's fine, my pockets were full of all this pesky cash anyway. I'm glad I could find a use for it.
Ting Ling Park hugged the base of a large hill. Tranquil waterways lined with bridges and filled with giant lillies really allow you to flex that zen muscle. Beautiful old statues , pagodas, and estates dotted the hillside--a temple looks down at us from the rock ledge. It is so liberating to take a few steps from the hustle and bustle of civilization to be instantly transported back in time.
As we walk, an eyesore warrants my attention. An Egyptian pyramid entrance juts out of the slope as obvious as a severely crooked tooth. My curiosity gets the better of my judgment as I make a beeline for the ticket office.
We feel a much needed cool breeze as we enter the dark, damp tunnel. Some wax figurines are before us; not resembling Egyptian themes in the slightest. Continuing down the hall, we hear screams echo from the darkness. Every horror movie I ever saw has never seemed so possible. Here we are, two Americans, alone; no phones or contact to the outside, in a creepy catacomb with no way out.
That's when it happened.
A ghoul launches out at us from the walls. I never thought I could make such a high-pitch sound. As the mechanism resets and our hearts return to our chests, i realize that this is a fun house. And let me tell you, nothing is scarier than a dilapidated Chinese haunted amusement. Its just a little too real!
After many frights and laughs, we exited the faux pyramid. The movie Hostel didn't seem so farfetched all of a sudden.
Another highlight was the very depressing Ting Ling zoo. If you are PETA, please resist the urge to hop on the next plane to Kunshan. I don't think any laws exist concerning the protection of animals in captivity besides owning a permit. I don't know this as a fact; the conditions of the animals make me assume such.
The cages were very small and dirty. The little water in them looked rancid and seemed to be used more as an escape from the heat rather than for nourishment. The wolves looked pretty bad, their hair matted and their eyes infected. You could hear them whining between pants of hot, humid air.
I had never been so close to lions or tigers. But, my vantage point replaced awe with sadness. All three tigers, two cubs, and two lions looked very underweight. In their cage was watermelon rinds and a large block of ice. Just like their natural habitat. Every animal in the park seemed to be fed nothing more than watermelon. Perhaps that is just their lunch meal.
Ting Ling park had many more exciting sights to offer, but our mood was a little deflated. And as bad as it sounds, the lack of nutrition in the zoo drew attention to our own hungry bellies.
Such sights shouldn't be dwelled on too much. We are in a totally different civilization from our own. You cannot let your personal values cloud your view of others. I am a guest in their country, not the other way around. Some people forget such manners. I hope I never do.