As it is summertime, I’m not taking Chinese classes at the moment and I’m always up for getting out and having a little adventure, I decided to take an afternoon and go to Suzhou (苏州）. I have been to Suzhou twice before, once a couple months ago with my friend Roger when we met up with Katherine from the MIM program, and once over a year ago when I was in China with the MIM program. But it is a neat city with lots of things to do, plus it is only about 30 minutes away by high speed train so I decided to go back.
I invited my friend, Heather, to go with me, who I learned had never been to Suzhou in her 3 years in Shanghai, and we headed off for a Monday day-cation! I didn’t really know my way around town, or what exactly to go see, but I jotted down a few notes on places to check out before I took off and decided to just figure it out when we got there.
One of the places I wrote down was the Lingering Garden or Liu Yuan (留园). Suzhou is famous for their gardens. I had previously been to the Humble Administrator’s Garden with the MIM program and Roger and I went to Tiger Hill to see the leaning tower of Suzhou, as I like to call it. Therefore, I picked a new one. After two failed attempts of getting on buses I thought went to the Lingering Garden, we finally found a bus from the train station to take us there.
The 40rmb peak season entry fee we figured was justifiable because of the extensive upkeep that must be done on such a large beautiful garden. And a beautiful garden it was! I think it is much smaller than the Humble Administrator’s Garden, and unlike the last two times I visited tourist attractions in Suzhou, we didn’t have a tour guide to stop and explain to us the history, meaning and significance of each plant, stone, sculpture and building. Instead, Heather and I just lingered around the Lingering Garden.
It was pleasant, even though the rain decided to come as soon as we walked in. Thankfully there were plenty of covered passages and walkways with greenery draped over them to keep us dry.
What I would recommend the most, if you ever decide to linger around this garden – is to make sure to read the signs. Because there is some delightful Chinglish to see on the signs! I got pictures of a few good ones, but there were many more.
After the gardens, I some how managed to find the little area of canals lined with old buildings, and trendy little shops and cafe’s Roger had taken me to before. We wandered around town for a few hours, had some ice cream at DQ and then headed back to Shanghai!