We started in the eastern portion, where the entrance is. There is a well in this part, and several flower beds and small bamboo-and-thatch structures in this garden, which are used for the two annual flower shows held in this garden. This garden also holds the women’s garden, where the women would sit, talk, sew, and make music, while the men would make various sculptures and paintings for them.
The western piece of the garden is where the Chinese bonsai garden is located. In this garden is also a tower where the family’s eldest daughters lived until they were married. There is also a building where the mistress of the garden would prepare ink and paper, while the master of the garden would use the ink and paper to write poems and paint artwork.
After wandering through the museum, we walked about a mile or so to Guanqian Road, where we got food. I went with a group who chose to visit a Korean barbecue, where it was all you can eat and drink (alcohol included) for 65 yuan (about 10 dollars). Of this group, only me and one other person decided to meet the bus to go to Suzhou Silk Factory No. 1.
They started by describing to us the life cycle of a silk worm. The silk comes from the cocoon that the worm spins when it goes into becoming a moth. The farmers pick these cocoons and steam them to kill the worms inside. Then the cocoons go to the silk factory where they are sorted into single and double cocoons.
The singles go into a softening machine before going to a station where the ends of the silk thread are found and then run up and attached to the spooling machine. The silk is sent off to be dyed, and then comes back to the factory to be used to make silk weavings, clothing, scarves, neckties, sheets, blanket covers, and pillow cases.
The double cocoons are taken to another part of the factory where a worker soaks them to soften them, pulls out the two worms, and spreads the cocoon over a hoop. Once eight of these have been hooped, the whole unit is taken off the hoop and put onto a second, larger hoop. Once eight big layers are built up on this, it is ready to be dried and go to the next stage of the process. We got to help use some of these to make a quilt. In the old days, these big layers made from the double cocoons were used for parachutes.
After seeing part of the production line, we went to see the factory outlet store. I bought several scarves and neckties, but only ended up paying about 160 US dollars for the lot. Supply and demand again.
After that, we went home to the apartments and hung out until we all went to bed.