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travel talk:
Suzhou Special: Know Suzhou

1. Though often characterised as a quaint, verdant retreat for busy city-dwellers, Suzhou is actually quite large – home to six million people and two new industrial districts. The SIP (Suzhou Industrial Park) is a global IT base and a nightlife hotspot.

2. Suzhou is just a 30 minute ride from Shanghai on China’s CRH (China Railways High-speed) bullet trains, launched in 2007. Tickets are cheap (RMB 20 to 30 each way) for reclining soft seats and ample legroom. If you haven’t been to Suzhou recently and your last trip was negatively affected by the train station as ours often were, then there is some good news. As a result of the Expo, Suzhou train station has been renovated and made into a far easier place to navigate, buy tickets and escape from.

3. If you find the distinct lack of taxis to be the most frustrating thing about Suzhou, then you are in luck. There is currently a metro system being built under the city and, when it eventually opens in the not too distant future, there will be no reason to ever be caught outside in the drizzle waiting for a taxi.

4. The Grand Canal running through Suzhou is the world’s longest artificial waterway. Connecting Beijing to the north and Hangzhou to the south, it stretches 1,800km and was constructed over 2,000 years ago.

5. Another “world’s biggest” title goes to Suzhou this year. Humanity has never seen an LED screen as large as the 500 metre long one that Suzhou boasts. Nightly shows include ads, fireworks, flowers, clouds and seasonal greetings, spanning the length of Harmony Times Square.

6. Suzhou attracts nearly 50 million domestic tourists annually, making it one of China’s best-loved destinations. 

7. Nine of Suzhou’s gardens are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most famous features are curled roofs, floral windows and Tai Lake rockeries. Downtown, these delicate design elements are repeated everywhere, like these flower patterned panes in the Bookworm Café on Shiquan Jie.

8. Suzhou’s bridges vary from small and simple to large and ornate, with carvings visible only from underneath. The most famous of all is the Treasure Belt Bridge, built with 53 semicircular openings. During a full moon in August (the 13th on the Chinese lunar calendar), the moon is reflected through each opening, creating 53 moons in the water below.

9. Whether it’s on a canal boat slipping through the downtown water ways or on luxurious yachts cutting an elegant course through the lake, Suzhou is a city best seen from the water. And if it is yachting you’re into then look no further than the Han Yuan International Club which offers a wide range of services ranging from luxurious suites, golf and, of course, yachting.


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