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A day trip to one of China’s prettiest cities and a beautiful water town

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Above there is heaven; below there is  SuHang (Suzhou and Hangzhou)

(Chinese proverb)

I had been working in Shanghai and decided to stay on for the weekend rather than return to Beijing, so that I could take a day trip to Suzhou which is said to be one of the prettiest cities in China.  It’s located about sixty-two kilometres from Shanghai so I went on line and found a tour company that would pick me up and take me to a couple of well known sights.IMG_0509

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Suzhou’s canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and beautifully designed gardens have contributed to it being regarded as one of the top tourist attractions in China.  I have often heard and read that Suzhou is sometimes called the ‘Venice of the East’ or ‘Venice of China’ because of its beautiful canals and gardens.

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I was taken to a few places in Suzhou to look at the gardens but with limited time I really only got to see a tiny piece of the city’s beautiful gardens and ancient homes.

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I knew that Jiangsu Province had several water towns (seven in total) and in 2011 I had not visited any so I decided on Zhouzhuang and was not disappointed.  I have since visited several others and have been equally happy with how beautiful they are.

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Zhouzhuang is located in Kunshan City which is only 30 kilometres southeast of Suzhou. Like nearly everyplace in China, it has a rich cultural history.  The ancient residential houses along the canal are very well preserved with the usual beautiful Chinese lanterns hanging from rooftops and trees.

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In an area of half a square kilometre, 60 percent of the Zhouzhuang’s structures were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties and to see the homes and structures along the canal, the most convenient form of transport is a gondola.  I hopped on board one for a 30 minute tour and our lovely elderly Chinese gondloier asked if she could sing some Chinese opera, to which we replied ‘definitely’…she sang really well and it just added to my memories of this water town.

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A trip definitely worth delaying my return to Beijing!!

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