Published: February 27th 2012February 27th 2012
This past Saturday, Lauren and I took the train to the historic city of Suzhou. The city has been inhabited for thousands of years and is renowned for it's many canals and classical Chinese gardens. It took us about 30 minutes on the high speed rail from Changzhou to get to Suzhou Station. There are 10 million people in the city limits, so needless to say it was a little packed. We got a little impatient waiting in the long taxi line, so with limited knowledge of the city layout we hopped on a bus and crossed our fingers we'd end up somewhere near our hotel. Luckily, the bus took us into the center of the old city and we hopped off at Guanqian, a busy shopping district. After exploring a bit, we decided to look for a cab... unfortunately this was just not going to happen. We worked out a deal with a pedicab driver instead, and "enjoyed" the interesting experience of being driven around by bicycle through unfamiliar streets.
Later that evening, we ventured back out into the city to enjoy what was Lauren's first experience with 火锅 (hotpot), a spicy style of Chinese cooking where the restaurant
places a boiling cauldron in the middle of your table filled with very spicy peppers and seasonings. You then order raw food that you cook yourself right at the table. This would be a great concept if I was completely fluent in Chinese, but what I managed to order us was about a months supply of Chinese parsley, two BARRELS of bok choi, and some shrimp gooey puree. Wasn't necessarily what we wanted, but everything turned out great!
The next day we went out exploring the canals and gardens in the city. We wandered around for most of the day through street markets and busy streets. Breakfast was amazing- four steamed vegetable dumplings prepared right on the street corner. Delicious! Next stop was the Humble Administrator's Garden, one of the most prestigious gardens in Southern China. It was a beautiful landscape filled with interesting rock structures, caves, ponds, bridges, bamboo, and many different pavillions and small pagodas. It was quite a relaxing experience. After leaving the garden, we hopped on a hand-rowed canal boat and enjoyed a ride through the waterways down to the Pinjiang historic district. While there, we took a few pictures and had a great lunch
down by the water.
After lunch, we made our way back to the train station and headed back home to Changzhou!
There are more photos below