Marco Polo said...

Trip Start Mar 29, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Monday, August 16, 2010

..."In heaven there is paradise, on Earth there is Suzhou and Hangzhou".

Watertown, the name of our hostel and the most concise description of Suzhou. Prabhjyot and I must have crossed a record breaking number of bridges during our visit as a canal passes through the city about every hundred metres. Even with so much water around, the city still suffered from incredible heat, which muted our anxiety and made us stay in on our first day with the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Riding with guilt, the next day we set off to spend a day at the Lingering Gardens (called such because of its grand scale that would make anyone spend hours lingering through it). The garden was beautifully ancient with a couple of Chinese women playing traditional instruments at the lake or under the shade in a pavillion. We walked around the garden with our path marked out by the trees which provided the most shade and took a break in a teahouse, a place where once again we became sitting ducks for Chinese tourists with cameras. After a few snaps we decided to surrender to the heat as our hostel had another DVD with our names on it. As the evening drew closer and Confessions of a Shopaholic came to an end, we decided to visit the night market. We walked down the streets around the area where our map suggested but found no market in sight. Instead our appetites had grown, so we made our way to Daniang Dumplings and pointed to the only picture in sight (yep, our Chinese is still pretty poor).

Most cities in China are immersed in history and Suzhou is not left out. The Suzhou museum, housed in modern architecture was good fun for us. We created our own "treasure hunt" by picking up some information leaflets about certain artefacts in the museum and went on a search for them. Having visited more museums in the last five months than we have in our two decades before coming to China, it was good to mix things up a little! Suzhou is also often described as the Venice of the Far East, and with that in mind we treated ourselves to a gondola ride down the canal and back. The canal took us between homes where people tended to their daily errands and drains came pouring out into the canal, but Suzhou still held its charm. 

By the third day, Prabhjyot and I felt like we had seen most of Suzhou, if not by foot then on the local bus, so we made our way to Tongli. An hour and a half away by bus, Tongli village is a tourist hub with most of its residents involved in the industry. With 47 bridges the village is very picturesque and has some interesting museums and teahouses, where no doubt we spent most of our time. Back in town, we spent our final evening on Pingjiang, a road with small boutiques and eateries. We decided to go for dim-sum and went to a restaurant call Pin Von. It was a bit of a hit and miss with the dishes we ordered but we were well fed by the end of it.

The next morning it was time to be on the move again but we weren't going very far. With journey time less than two hours, we caught a bus to Shanghai fueling our excitement with sweets and chocolates pick'n'mix for breakfast, it was time to see the World Expo!

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Nalini on

Suzhou and Tongli are so picturesque, especially the lingering gardens. Wonderful picture postcard photography!

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