On our trip to China, we made a quick day trip to Suzhou. When visiting Shanghai, you need to take a day trip or two to either Suzhou or Hangzhou. According to my Chinese friends, "there is heaven above, Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth." About thirty minutes by train east of Shanghai, Suzhou seems to be a part of the Shanghai urban sprawl. With over 1.5 million people, Suzhou is not a quaint small village. There are high rise apartments and seven lane highways. The majority of the city is fairly modern, with a few pockets of Old Suzhou existing as tourist meccas.
I was actually in Suzhou for a few business meetings. The boyfriend spent the morning working at a Starbucks. We got back together in the evening and went out to dinner with my colleagues. They decided that we should enjoy traditional Suzhou and took us to one of the water towns.
This water town is not what one would traditionally expect of a water town. There were no floating markets or row boats. Small canals criss-cross By the time we arrived there in the evening, most of the boat owners were closing up shop. Instead of boating down the canal (with the loads of garbage that was also making its way downstream), we walked through the shops and restaurants and visited the temple.
I would love to tell you exactly where this was in Suzhou, but I have absolutely no idea. Perhaps someone who lives in Suzhou can let me know! My colleagues took us to an amazing dinner and bought us some candies to take home to share. It's always helpful to have a local pick out your candies, that way you don't wind up with anything too strange!
Have you been to Suzhou or Hangzhou? These cities are known as "heaven on earth" in China, but saldy Suzhou is still within the Shanghai smog cloud.