November, 1999

Chinese flag

Suzhou is 200 km downstream from Nanjing and 100 km upstream from Shanghai. A thousand years ago it began to grow and become rich with the opening of the Grand Canal (Beijing to Hangzhou) and the increased demand for silk. But it is most famous for its gardens. By spending six nights there we managed to see a half-dozen of them, whereas many tour groups come to town for an afternoon, see one, and depart. In the end we liked them a great deal and felt we knew them, although since they have tended to blend together in our minds. At the very least they gave us lots of ideas for building our dream house.

When visiting Suzhou we often wished we could keep our eyes closed between gardens, because so much is a modern polluted dump. Nonetheless, some of the very old canals and their ancient bridges inspired many dreamy thoughts of old Cathay for us. And they do have a very good Pizza Hut right opposite the central Confucian temple, both worth a visit. The internet cafe that we first looked for was in a block that had been completely torn down for redevelopment. Then by accident we found another just outside the backdoor of our hotel.

Updated September  15, 2002