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short visit to the Venice of the East

View Shanghai and lots more - 2011 on Ils1976's travel map.

When I woke up this morning, it suddenly hit me that I was back in Shanghai. The traffic noise I was getting used to the first few days, sounded strange and annoying in my ears at this moment. I even beat the alarm clock with half an hour. Woohoo!?

Today we planned to make a quick visit to Suzhou, because this evening we have to go to a family dinner which is held in one of the local restaurants in the Hongkou district.

This time we took the normal train and within one hour we were already in Suzhou.

Mingzhu and my brother wanted to go shopping for a wedding dress. Last night a friend of Mingzhu made a surprise visit at her place and said that you could find nice dresses for even a better price at some kind of district in Suzhou and that caught her attention. Me and tania on the other hand wanted to see as much of the city as possible, so we split up and agreed to meet eachother again at the trainstation early in the afternoon.

Suzhou, known as one of the many watertowns near Shanghai is also very famous for its gardens. I read somewhere that most of them are protected by Unesco, so, we couldn't stay behind. Because there are so many of them and we had so little time, we agreed to visit at least one garden. The most famous gardens are situated in the centre of the old town, but because Tania and I didn't want to end up between all those noisy tour groups, we decided to visit a small garden just outside the old town.

The Liú garden or lingering garden was going to be our "choice of the day". The garden itself is divided into several smaller ones with a few pavilions and a small pond. I especially liked the bonsai trees and the small bamboo forest. Because it isn't big, you can easily walk the entire tour of the garden in less than an hour, like we did.

Once back on the street, Tania noticed that the shops across the garden also sell silk duvets. The last time she visited China she bought herself a silk pillow and because she was so satisfied, she wanted a duvet as well. Unfortunately the measurements weren't the same as in Belgium, which was a real pity. Oh well, maybe we find one one of these days. You never know of course!

Further up the road, we crossed a bridge and followed the small channel all the way to a gateway of an old street. We were so happy to have found the old town. See, even us two girls can read a map!

While walking down the street I noticed a few tourists, but not the big crowds which we are used to see. This made me a little bit suspicious. Were we in the wrong place?

Tania on the other hand didn't mind so much. There were a few souvenirshops, so what better way to spend our remaining hours. At the end of the street we noticed a small bookshop where you can even have something to drink and we decided to take a break with a cup of coffee and something small to eat.

Still very much suspicious of the fact that it was so quiet (what can I do, it is in my nature!) I asked the owner for a more detailed map and found out that we were at Shantang Jie. Unfortunately for us it was going away from the center of the old town so after our coffee break we headed back towards the gate.

This time we made a left turn and followed the big street called Baita Xilu all the way up to Pingjiang street, which turned out to be a long, "authentic" street with canal boats and lots of small stone bridges.

It was almost time to go back to the trainstation and we tried to stop a taxi. Because there were street works going on at this part of the town, it looked like we weren't going to find one. All the ones we saw were occupied and it looked like we were standing on a wrong place to stop a taxi. The only thing on my mind was, NOT AGAIN!

Suddenly we both noticed an empty taxi and as good as we could, we explained in English, sign language and with the help of our trainticket where we needed to be.

We arrived right on time at the station, even before my brother and Mingzhu. They arrived a few minutes later with lots of bags. It seemed that their "mission" was a big success. Not only did they buy one, but two wedding dresses! After watching the pictures of the dresses we headed to our train, this time it was a bullet train and in less than half an hour we were back at the train station in Shanghai.

After a quick shower and change of clothes we went on our way for the family dinner.

It turned out that we had a private room on the first floor of the restaurant and because we were a bit early we were the first ones to arrive. Soon after us, Mingzhu's father arrived together with the aunts, the uncle and one of the cousins and as the chairs get filled with other family members, we could finally eat. Boy, was I hungry!

We could order anything we wanted, but as our Chinese is still the same like a week ago, Mingzhu asked for all the things we liked. As the food arrived, it seemed I wasn't the only one who was very hungry. Lots and lots of different dishes were put on the table, the ones I tried tasted all delicious, but I still like the pumpking cakes the most, I can't help it, I think I am a bit addicted.

For me, family dinner was a big success and because everyone looked very satisfied, I guess the others thought the same way. After taken some last pictures, we all went back to our "homes".

Not quite sleepy yet, the three of us made a quick stroll on the evening market before hitting back to the hotel. A nice way to end the day!

Posted by Ils1976 01:18 Archived in China Tagged trains food water history walk city friends family canal sights asia unesco_world_heritage_site

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