Rosie & Jim's Travel Blog

A blog of all our travels

Embroidery, delays and ice cream... Venice???

Gardens, canals and wedding dresses

  |     |   China 2009   |   China, Shanghai

Today we visited Suzhou. This is a small city, of only about 6million people, about 2 hours from Shanghai. The place is famed for it’s beautiful Chinese Gardens and canals, but on approach to the town, it appears that they should be famous for wedding dress shops! Our guide informed us that this was indeed the place to buy dresses as there are in excess of 100 shops dedicated to wedding dresses and the relevant accessories!

We started the day with a visit to Tiger Hill, the tomb of an emperor of the area from about 2500 years ago. After baking slowly beneath the leaning tower of Tiger Hill, we adjourned back to the car for a short trip round to the Lingering Gardens. The principle requirements for a Chinese Garden are:

  • Architecture/Buildings;

  • Water;

  • Rocks;

  • Trees/Flowers.

Without all four of these elements, the space is not a formal garden. The lingering garden includes all these elements and is also well hidden behind a large white wall so the original owner could keep the space private. Along the way, we were also treated to some traditional music and singing in the local dialect.

After a brief interlude for lunch, we visited another of Suzhou’s famous gardens, the Humble Adminstrator’s Garden. This is another old garden that was built by an extremely rich, and important man. He was actually richer than the Emperor at the time!

After a discussion with our guide, our evening boat trip along the Huang Pu river was moved to this evening so that we could get the best views. As such we rushed back to the hotel for a quick shower before going to the boat. Driving in China is lethal at the best of times, but here in Shanghai, they are building everywhere to get the city ready for Expo 2010 so traffic is quite bad most of the time. At the boat docks it is even worse. After becoming sandwiched between two coaches, our driver proceeded to beep and push his way back onto the main road to try another dock. We almost managed to annihilate a couple hundred tourist in the process, but did get to the dock in time to board our boat. Phew!! We got underway at about 1945 (when it was already dark). The views were amazing, but a little stunted by the smog. Pictures are available in our gallery.

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