I came here to see a few gardens. I didn’t realise how much I would stumble across as I was out walking.
Different guidebooks focus on different elements of a place. As mentioned, I’ve got one that likes pottery.
Different maps include completely different highlights to others. In fact, it sometimes appears that two cartographers did not actually go to the same city.
My blog was never intended to be a comprehensive guide to the places I visit. There are better sources of information available, especially if you like ceramics.
Today, armed with some tips provided by Zekro who is the owner of the Finland Home Cafe (and part time font of all knowledge about Suzhou) where I had dinner last night, I set off.
I was then rained back inside courtesy of duff weather forecasts.
It had been great chatting with Zekro. He is Iranian and arrived in China via Finland. Nokia appointed him to open a factory in Suzhou and he and his Finnish wife moved here around twenty years ago.
They love it here. After several years working for Nokia and then with the University, the couple opened the Cafe on Pingyiang Road, which also serves Iranian curries as well as traditional Scandinavian favourites.
Zekro said that the restoration and development has changed much of the central area. While some of the buildings are over a thousand years old new businesses have opened and the area is booming.
Surprisingly, to me, for a man who has worked for Nokia and lived in Finland where the tech appetite is strong, he said that the technological changes in China have happened so quickly that he struggles to keep up.
He’s quite the ambassador for Suzhou and he gave me a list of suggestions to visit today.
A change of outfit and I set out, again, having decided on walking the moat around the city.
The ancient moat ‘circles’ the old city and the path within the waterway has been turned into a fitness route.
At regular intervals there are gym and sports facilities. While in Suzhou, I have seen several games of badminton played.
The path is another example of the approach I have seen so far in terms of ornamental planting blended with attempts to mirror the natural environment.
It was also a good route for visiting the eight remaining land and water gates that defended the city against invaders – whether armies or floods.
Suzhou is twinned with Venice and street scenes like this reminded me of the fact.
The old city is surrounded or framed by modern developments and climbing the remaining ramparts of Suzhou’s old defensive wall give excellent views.
While the gardens should not be missed, they are not the only reason to visit.
This was another friendly town to visit. My entire afternoon has featured smiles, nods and hellos from everyone I have met.
*Featured Photo: The PanMen Scenic Area (behind the defensive gate).