A 41 kuai 26 minute journey via high speed bullet train took me n the fam fam to the city of Suzhou from Shanghai. I absolutely love the bullet trains. Never have had a problem and have been on trains here many times although the summer crash that occurred between two trains near Wenzhou made me think a little bit about the safety standards. The bullet trains feel like airplanes with lots of leg space. Uniformed stewardesses come by and the train breaks 300km/h , the landscape absolutely speeds by. We only had less than a full day to spend in Suzhou , a city renown for its canals and beautiful gardens. Marco Polo once called it the Venice of the East. So we made sure to stay in the middle of the historic district in a canal town and visit one of the most famous gardens of Suzhou.
We stayed on the lovely Pingjiang St which features crisscrossing canals , 1000 year old stone bridges , and a slight glimpse into ancient life in between the coffee shops and places catering to the tourists. It rained the entire day due to the seasonal wet seasons ( argghhh Plum Rains!!!!!) but we still had a great time. Fantastic just walking by the canals and catching glimpses of the gondolas floating by controlled by the lone singing pilot. Comparisons to Venice are aptly suited.
A walk down PingJiang Rd soon leads to a museum/garden area. We took the opportunity to visit the Humble Administrator’s garden. This garden was owned by a Tang dynasty scholar and was built in-between the years 1510-1526 A.D. Since then it passed hands many times and was granted UNESCO world heritage status in 1997. (I should count the number of UNESCO sites I visited this summer , sooo many!) This garden is huge inside and the amount of upkeep it would take to maintain it is astounding. During a visit to one of these gardens you can really forget you are in a city of 4 million , 10 million including the prefecture around the urban area. They are incredibly relaxing (as long as you avoid the crush of tourists during peak season and rainy season is one way to keep away some of the tourists). In my 4 year ago visit to Suzhou I visited some other smaller gardens as well and was also impressed , I intend to revisit and see the other places I haven’t made it to yet. It’s especially easy to come back considering it costs around $12 and takes 1 hour round trip.
The pops and sister retired in the evening but mums was still looking to walk around so we ventured over to GuanQian pedestrian sleep. A massively long pedestrian shopping street loaded with stores and neon but not as many people as Shanghai’s Nanjing Rd. It’s cool to go check out but nothing really else to say about it. Go there and see. I’m not exactly the shopping type and we didn’t visit any stores but it would be a great place to go if you are in the market.
I regret not having more time to stay here with the family but due to their ambitious see China plans the next day we were boarding another bullet train heading to Hangzhou, the famous city featuring West Lake!