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Published: August 19th 2010
A day trip from Shanghai.
We managed to catch our morning train to Suzhou, after hurriedly asking a restaurant put our breakfast of "xiao long bao" dumplings into a take away box with much sign language! It was a nice high speed train and only took us half an hour to get to Suzhou, which is where many traditional Chinese gardens are dotted around,and it is another world UNESCO site.
We took a crowded number 1 bus down town where we walked in the dry heat to the first garden we had chosen to visit, the master of nets garden. It was big, green, beautiful, and nice and quiet...until the tour groups appeared round the corner!! The garden was a nice place to relax in the shade away from the buzz of the city.
After a long hot walk to the next garden (we declined the offers of bicycle taxis), we arrived at Canglang pavillion - again, very pretty, lots of bamboo, a lake and old ladies gossiping and relaxing under the shade of the pavillion.
One more walk and we decided to stop for lunch at a great little local place, partly because we were
hungry but partly because we wanted to enjoy their air-conditioning! We then headed to one more garden. There are many many gardens around Suzhou, but we limited ourselves to three so we could appreciate them and not take on too much. They are quite spread out as well. This time we went to a smaller, less popular garden called the garden of harmony, which actually turned out to be my favourite garden. It had a big lake in the middle with coy carp, lots of pretty places to sit and admire the garden, and rockeries and passage ways.
It was easy to get the bus back to the train station and the train back to Shanghai.
Now for my rant......
My one gripe with Suzhou, and Shanghai (and to be honest, much city driving in all of China I have seen!) is the traffic!! Not the stand still, going nowhere kind of traffic, but the mental, roads are ridicuous kind of traffic! A bike is a road worthy vehicle in my opinion, and yet they seem to drive across pavements and onto roads whenever the traffic lights are in their favour - they will either join the
pedestrians or they will join the traffic! To make matters worse, they are silent because they are electronic! It' not until they are on your heels or by your side that you will hear them beeping at you...as happened to me. In Suzhou, we were walking under a pedestrian
subway crossing in order to cross a busy main road. Sure enough, motorised bikes appeared round dark corners, making use of the subway themselves. I should point out that on main roads, bikes also have a lane of their own aside from the cars. Coming out of the subway I literally jumped when I heard a horn in my right ear and a bike right next to me! I think I had frightened the driver by my reaction! I then proceeded to yell at him that he should be on the road! Poor bloke, there are hundreds of them that do the same thing and yet he happened to receive my outburst because he scared me so much! Crossing the road here is a game of risk! Bikes seem to rule the road.
Ironically some bikes then park on the pavement, so pedestrians are then forced to walk in the bike
lane and continue to get beeped at by the bikes!
Suhzhou is full of beautiful gardens, and there is much peace and serenity to find....I just chose this blog to voice my complaints about traffic in China!
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