Suzhou Gardens and Grand Canal (“the Venice of the East”), China

The pond in The Garden of Cultivation, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of the city, Suzhou, China

The pond in The Garden of Cultivation, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of the city, Suzhou, China

 

From Shanghai we drove two hours west (about 62 miles / 100 kilometers) to the historic city of Suzhou, known for centuries as “the Venice of the East”.  Today it is a booming metropolis, with a population approaching 5 million in the city and 10 million in the greater Suzhou area.  “It is a major economic center and focal point of trade and commerce, and the second largest city in the province after the capital Nanjing.  The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the shores of Lake Tai and belongs to the Yangtze River Delta region.” — Wikipedia

“Historically, Sūzhōu (苏州市) was synonymous with high culture and elegance, and generations of artists, scholars, writers and high society in China were drawn by its exquisite art forms and the delicate beauty of its gardens.  Like all modern Chinese towns, Sūzhōu has unfortunately endured much destruction of its heritage and its replacement with largely arbitrary chunks of modern architecture.  Having said that, the city still retains enough pockets of charm to warrant two to three days’ exploration on foot or by bike.  And the gardens, Sūzhōu’s main attraction, are a symphonic combination of rocks, water, trees and pavilions that reflects the Chinese appreciation of balance and harmony.  Adding to the charm are some excellent museums, surviving canal scenes, pagodas and humpbacked bridges.” – www/lonelyplanet.com

 

One of many Chinese brides that we saw in The Garden of Cultivation, Suzhou, China, where they posed for professional portraits

One of many Chinese brides that we saw in The Garden of Cultivation, Suzhou, China, where they posed for professional portraits

 

Our first visit was to The Garden of Cultivation, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the center of the city.  It is regarded as one of the city’s nine finest “Mountain and Water” landscapes.  We had the opportunity to have tea in one of the tea houses and individually learn and practice some Chinese calligraphy with brush and ink.  Our instructor also showed each of us our English names in Chinese characters.  It was clear to all of us that much study and practice would be needed if we wanted to become even moderately competent in calligraphy.  After our garden visit we had a ride on a small boat down the Grand Canal.  In the neighborhood of Suzhou where we disembarked we walked to the Songhelou Restaurant for a Chinese banquet luncheon.  Their signature dish, Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish, was excellent and a dish that we also enjoyed again later on during our stay in Shanghai.

 

One of the teahouses on the pond in The Garden of Cultivation, Suzhou, China

One of the teahouses on the pond in The Garden of Cultivation, Suzhou, China

 

Our calligraphy instructor showing us the Chinese characters for one of our English names, The Garden of Cultivation, Suzhou, China

Our calligraphy instructor showing us the Chinese characters for one of our English names, The Garden of Cultivation, Suzhou, China

 

Suzhou, China, today is a booming metropolis, with a population approaching 5 million in the city

Suzhou, China, today is a booming metropolis, with a population approaching 5 million in the city

 

An older neighborhood that has not yet been replace by modern high rise buildings, Suzhou, China

An older neighborhood that has not yet been replace by modern high rise buildings, Suzhou, China

 

A “traditional” shoe store – on wheels, presenting a combination of physical goods (not Internet photos) selection and instant home delivery, Suzhou, China; beat that, Amazon!

A “traditional” shoe store – on wheels, presenting a combination of physical goods (not Internet photos) selection and instant home delivery, Suzhou, China; beat that, Amazon!

 

Going through one of many bridge “tunnels” on the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China

Going through one of many bridge “tunnels” on the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China

 

Typical homes along the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China; many of the homes have belonged to the same family for many generations – sadly, the canal no longer has such a “grand” appearan

Typical homes along the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China; many of the homes have belonged to the same family for many generations – sadly, the canal no longer has such a “grand” appearance

 

Interspersed among the homes are sections of commerce (shops and restaurants) along the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China

Interspersed among the homes are sections of commerce (shops and restaurants) along the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China

 

Our ride down the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China, was in one of the boats pictured here

Our ride down the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China, was in one of the boats pictured here

 

A classical bridge over a wide lake along the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China

A classical bridge over a wide lake along the Grand Canal, Suzhou, China

 

3 thoughts on “Suzhou Gardens and Grand Canal (“the Venice of the East”), China

  1. Greetings to you both in China!

    Suzhou was one of the highlights of our Viking cruise in China — they took us, just as you have described, from Shanghai. Such a fascinating city, both in its historic role and in the gorgeous gardens. Your photos are wonderful.

    Best wishes in your travels…

    Pat

    Patricia B. Mutch

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    Gualala, CA 95445

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  2. As many times as I’ve been to China, I had no idea this existed. Thank you for sharing this most unusual place.

    Balance and Harmony – now there is an idea which would be nice to perpetrate.

    How fun you and Robin got to try Calligraphy!

    Like

  3. what a awesome trip that must have been. So fortunate to be able to see these beautiful sights . Thank you for sharing your adventures.

    Like

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