Suzhou #2: Taihu Wetland Park

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August 7th 2018
Published: August 19th 2018
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Wonton Soup
I woke up pretty early, but after having had a very early start yesterday, I lazed in bed for a while longer not wanting to move. Eventually, I got up and we headed out. Our first stop of the day was breakfast. After returning our key card and being given some bottles of iced tea and breakfast recommendations from the hotel reception staff we were on our way. We passed by the first place they recommended and decided to see what the other places looked like. Pretty much as soon as we saw the second place, we decided to go in. Dumplings for breakfast! Definitely one of my favourite meals. The restaurant was pretty busy inside, lots of people enjoying a late breakfast or early lunch. We ordered at the counter, the menu on the wall was all in Chinese, but there was a display cabinet with some the foods they did, so I could see what they had to offer. We ordered a bowl of wonton soup each and some crab xiaolongbao to share. We found a table and our food soon appeared. The wonton soup was really good, it didn't really differ from other wonton soups I have eaten,

Wonton Soup and Crab Xiaolongbao
nevertheless it was tasty. The crab xiaolongbao were really, really good. I don't think I have had this type of xiaolongbao before, but I would definitely have them again. The dumpling wrapper was thick and the filling and broth inside were utterly delicious. We were a bit disappointed as there were only four, but since we were still hungry, a quick trip back to the counter rectified the matter as we ordered another set. We had also ordered some spring rolls. Back in the west, spring rolls are a popular Chinese food, but I rarely see them in China, I don't know if it is because of the region I live in or I just don't open my eyes wide enough, but I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I have had spring rolls in China.The spring rolls were really good, they were salty, maybe the filling included salted shrimp as they had a fishy taste too, and seaweed. After scoffing them and the other set of xiaolongbao, we were stuffed and doubted that we would need to eat lunch.

It was a short walk down to the bus stop. We had to take two buses to reach our destination for the day. We didn't have to wait too long for the first bus and we were soon driving through Suzhou. The bus left the downtown area and headed west. At one point we were the only people on the bus and the bus driver seemed to be confused as to why we were still on it. He even checked that we were still meant to be on the bus, which was very kind and helpful of him. We transferred buses at what seemed like a very random place, the street was lined with car dealerships on both sides and some of them were pretty high end ones. We had to wait ten minutes or so for the second bus and when we got on it was a lot busier than the first. This bus took about half an hour to reach Taihu Wetland Park, our destination for the day. We headed to the ticket office and purchased our tickets, which were 60 yuan per person. We headed over to the entrance gate and headed into the park.

First, we crossed a bridge over a small body of water that was filled with vegetation. There was a lrge boat moored on the water and I asked my friend if it was a real boat as there are often fake boats built in the water to house restaurants. We then came to a larger river and we could see a lady doing her laundry in the river. It didn't expect to see that at all, so it was pretty interesting to watch her. We then entered a tunnel with flowers hanging off the roof. It looked so pretty, what a shame the flowers were all fake. I thought they were real at first, but I was proved wrong. Then we entered the wetland proper. We found a map to orientate ourselves and decided what we would go and see. The wetland has a small beach area, we were going to go there, but since it seemed like a bit of a palaver as we had to go into a building, through some changing rooms and then out to the beach. We decided just to head to see the pandas instead. The pandas were about a two kilometre walk from our location, so we set off going slowly to take in the views. I was shocked
Taihu Wetland ParkTaihu Wetland ParkTaihu Wetland Park

A woman doing laundry in the river.
at how quiet the wetland park was. I don't think I have ever been to an attraction in China that was this quiet. I thoroughly enjoyed how peaceful it was. I think the heat must have kept people away. We didn't take to direct a path to the pandas as we kept veering off down little side paths to see what was there. The park was lush and green and the waterways were peaceful. We saw a few tour boats and decided that we would do one after our walk about the park. The heat was pretty intense so we broke our journey to the pandas a few times on the shaded benches. We had also underestimated how much liquid we would need. The walk wasn't difficult as the path is all flat and well paved, apart from the odd bridge we wandered off onto, when we went off the main trail, but the heat was killing us. We finally made it to the panda enclosure. It was a bit of a let down as the park says it has two pandas, but we could only see one and it was fast asleep with its back to the window.

We were able to buy some more drinks at the gift shop next to the panda enclosure and we needed thm. Then we took another rest on a shaded bench, before heading on. We came to a place where you could rent vehicles to get around the park and we contemplated getting one, until my friend asked the price and we deemed it too expensive. We kept walking and came to the lake area. That was really pretty, we sat and gazed out across the water. There was also a wooden boat structure that, at first, looked close enough to jump onto, but when we got closer we realised that the gap was a little too wide. After chilling there for a bit, we kept walking. We had planned to walk all the way around the park, but we seemed to take the wrong path somewhere and we tried to take another path back to where we wanted to be but that didn't work out, so we ended up back on the same path we had taken earlier. The walk back to the start took a while, but it was enjoyable. The wetland park was a nice place to spend the day, just wandering and taking in the greenery and water. I think it may be better to visit at a cooler time of the year, but then there would probably be crowds of people. We timed it perfectly as we approached the bus stop a bus was pulling up.

Back in Suzhou, we headed for something to eat. I really wanted to try 'Squirrel Fish', a local delicacy, so we headed to a restaurant that my friend had found online. When we got there, there was a pretty big queue outside. We didn't have time to wait in it as we needed to get the train back to Shanghai, so we set off to try and find somewhere else. There was a place just down the road that looked decent, so we headed in there. This place specialised in a Nanjing delicacy, duck blood soup. Since I like ducks' blood I was eager to try it. The restaurant as busy, but not too full, which I took to be a good sign. We ordered, found a table, and our food quickly arrived. Well, the soup was okay, but not really my thing. I enjoyed the ducks' blood and the other various innards of the duck like the kidneys and liver, but on the whole the soup was pretty lacklustre. The broth was really plain and bland and when that is combined with noodles I never want to finish it. We had ordered some pumpkinpies, too. I normally really like these, but they tasted crappy here, too. Oh well, not every meal can be perfect. My friend was worried that I was still hungry, so we set off to look for more food. Nothing really caught my eye and I would have been happy to head to the train station, but my friend was very persistent. In the end we found a xiaolongbao place and had a basket of those to shared. I ended up eating most of them as my friend had eaten more of her noodle soup so was feeling full. The xiaolongbao were really good and really cheap, I think we paid 10 yuan and got about 8 of them. I was stuffed and it was a struggle to walk to the subway station. It was only one stop to the train station and we were able to get tickets for train leaving to Shanghai pretty soon. I was glad to return to Suzhou, but coming back has me want to visit again in the future. I still feel there is a lot to see and do here.

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