Sorry about the dearth in postings, faithful crane watchers. I've been a little indisposed, Internet access-wise. But here, as a quick and special treat, is a photo of  the "Nepalese Jazz Bar If" in Suzhou. Which immediately raises the questions: What does Nepalese jazz sound like? Why would this strange and perhaps unholy duo of nationality and musical genre coalesce in mainland China? And why so iffy?

Well, the answer to the last question is that the "IF" actually is an abbreviation for First Floor. Points to anyone to whom that seemed obvious. I actually thought it was "IF."
ZhouZhuang, the rivertown, also has its own speciality alcohol: yellow wine. It tastes a lot like other versions of alcohol made in China, a bit cloying and tasting somewhat like ouzo. Not my bag, but I appreciate the effort. One family devotes itself to making and bottling yellow wine in an old ZhouZhuang residence, and we stopped in to watch.
Bottling it the home-brewing style.
Click Read More to follow the process.
I've been in the city of  Suzhou these past days. It's just north of Shanghai, and unlike many Chinese cities, its older core has not been demolished for a crush of bland skyscrapers. It has some real personality. USTC has a satellite campus in the city's "education district," as do most of the other top ones in China, such as Beijing University and Renmin University. (There's even a campus that's a collaboration between a Chinese university and Liverpool University. "Imagine there's a joint campus. It isn't hard to do...")

My hosts here took me to a nearby "rivertown" called ZhouZhuang. And, if you're at all a faithful reader of the Crane among Chickens blog, you know that photos and zany good times are ahead in this posting. As you head east from Suzhou toward the ocean, the land becomes a mixture of swamp, lakes and streams. Much of the area's freshwater fish are raised in this area, and also shrimp, crawfish, and oysters. ZhouZhuang is a very old village that was built on an island. Most of the original buildings are still standing. The residents used to make a living fishing. Now they sell tourists souvenir knicknacks and overpriced food. Well, it beats gutting fish, I guess.

First, I'd like to share the most sublime image of ZhouZhuang:
Click on Read More  for a journey from the sublime to the ridiculous.