Train to Suzhou

First time catching a train in China and really when you think about it catching public transportation shouldn’t be too difficult. It wasn’t. The station was absolutely massive though and it took us a while to navigate around but we were soon on the train and soon speeding our way to Suzhou.
85km in 30mins for $7.50 each, not bad at all.
As we left Shanghai we never really saw any countryside all the way to Suzhou. It wasn’t densely populated but there were still plenty of apartment blocks. It must be the industrial area as the smog was the worst we have seen, you certainly couldn’t see the horizon in fact I would be surprised if we could see more than 2 km. I have never seen anything this bad.
The hope, I guess, is that there is evidence of them making at effort to reduce the pollution. The scooters are all electric. I am not sure whether this will result in more or less human death as they are now silent!! Scooters can be seen going the wrong way down roads, through traffic lights and even on footpaths!! We certainly keep an eye out for them.
We had no idea what to expect in Suzhou but were very pleasantly surprised when we got here. The hostel was perfect and they even gave us a map to help us with where to go. Surprisingly enough we had some dumplings and wonton soup at a recommended place when we arrived and they were delicious. Slightly less English here and the lady at the hostel had to write down what we were going to have!!
They were dumplings full of soup and filling and after a couple of disastrous attempts at our first bites which resulted in soup squirting out everywhere a kind gentleman at the next table showed us how to eat them. Very very nice indeed!!
Suzhou is famous for its gardens. We started with a visit to the Suzhou museum which is actually a modern take on a Chinese garden and was actually quite cool and different to walk around. Yet again the museum was free!!!
The main park is called “The Humble Administrator’s Garden” and was just around the corner so we thought we would finish off the day with an amble around.
It was truly superb. We weren’t sure what to expect but it was 5.2 hectares in total and was a combination of little houses, lakes, bridges and walk ways and was so delightful to walk around.
It wasn’t spring and the weather was pretty dreary but even so it was absolutely breathtaking. Somehow it was full of people yet also relaxing in the same way. The thought and effort that must have gone into constructing such a thing of natural beauty must have been immense. We were both thoroughly impressed and can’t wait to see what the rest of Suzhou will bring!!!
For the evening our host at the hotel had recommended a local restaurant serving a local delicacy, fish with a sweet orange sauce. She again was nice enough to have written both the name of the restaurant and the dish down for us so off we set trying to match up the Chinese figures on our piece of paper with the ones in neon outside of the restaurants!! We felt pretty proud of ourselves when we found the place and set about ordering our dinner. The place was pretty quiet and we had a menu with pictures so we were feeling pretty confident. I am going to say that I don’t think our waitress was the brightest, but chaos ensued. We showed our written instruction which she understood but then we tried to get her to show it to us in the menu or at least tell us how much it was going to cost. Everything I pointed at in the menu to try and indicate that I wanted her to show me, she just wrote down on our order…this was going nowhere. So I pulled out my wallet and eventually she got the idea…and it turned out it was too expensive, back to square one. By this stage the table next to us were in fits of laughter. She must have been a bit insulted as she then lowered the price of the dish and we ordered some vegetables and then a beer. Brilliant.
We then tried to order rice. Not so hard in a Chinese restaurant but no matter what we tried she wasn’t going to understand. We even had a little bit of Internet and tried to do translations but she still wasn’t playing the game. At this point we just gave up. Dinner was great in the end although it did lack a bit of rice. T

The modern style in the new Suzhou Museum.

Some of the trees in the Administrator’s gardens were just so beautiful.


Everywhere we walked in the Administrator’s Garden there are waterways and bridges.

One of the many highlights for us were the gardens full of Bonsai trees.

We spent hours walking around the gardens and we could have spent longer!

Outside the gardens and on our way back we passed a shop where you could pick your own pearls!  Sarah is here picking her oyster.

The Oyster was then opened and all the pearls were hers to keep!  They cleaned them up.

And then made them into a bracelet.

The streets of Suzhou are an eclectic mix of canals, narrow alleyways, multi laned traffic filled and these lovely tree lined avenues lined with an array of wonderful shops.

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