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China September 2015 part II: Suzhou
The first week of our China trip had been a hectic one, so it was good that our stay in Zhouzhuang was more relaxed. There are several "water towns" in the Shanghai-Suzhou region, during our 2009 trip we had visited Tong Li. Zhouzhuang, 30 km south-east of Suzhou is the most famous and probably also the most popular one.

Public tramsport from Suzhou would be complicated, so we took two taxis. They dropped us at the entrance gate of the village, where we bought tickets. Well organised, tickets had a photo so we could go in and out unlimited times. And for me, a septuagenarian, access was free!!

Aric had booked a hotel inside the water village, only a short walk from the entrance. A very romantic hotel, we had our own private balcony, from where we had a nice view of the canal, almost directly below us. So nice that we were reluctant to go out for food, we bought cup-of-noodles in a supermarket just outside the entrance and had our lunch on our balcony..:-)

Tired after busy days

Station hall Shanghai

In the bullet train

Suzhou hotel entrance

Checking in

A very nice room

After a good rest, we walked around the village. Canals, bridges, boats, I kept taking pictures..:-) And tourists too, almost all locals. Click on a picture to get a larger view.

Popular place!

Brilliantly lit houses

Our dinner with small lobsters

Almost a Christmas tree

Shantang river by night

Our breakfast place

Waiting for our food

Preparing the dumplings

Our breakfast

Friendly staff

Many local tourists. In the evening it became more quiet, as most of them are day-trippers. The boats who were busy all day, found a parking place for the night. And we found a place for dinner. Pig knuckle is a speciality of these water villages, many shops sell them for take-away, but you can also have them in a restaurant. Delicious but not good for your health.
After our meal we walked around and enjoyed the scenery. Lighting less colorful than in Suzhou, actually nicer. We passed a liquor shop and could not resist the temptation. As usual Roger would like to have his picture taken with the friendly sales girl ...:-)

Shantang river by day

Cruising on the river

Tang Shaofu Baigong Temple

Suzhou museum


The gardess

Ornamental design

The museum cafe

Nice architecture

Monumental stairwell

When we woke up next morning around 7 am, we were surprised that there were already a lot of tourists. Simple explanation: the ticket office opens only later, so the early birds can enter for free..:-)! But it was still not too crowded when we walked to our breakfast place. Dumplings again.

Mansion of Li Xiucheng

Romantic canal near rthe Garden

Choosing and eating our lunch

Many tourists

Garden entrance

Our first destination was the Chengxu Temple. Zhouzhuang is a very old village, its history goes back to 1086 when it got its present name. The temple was built in the same period, of course later expanded and upgraded.
On our way to the temple I got the idea to take pictures of the bridges. But I gave up, there are too many, here is just a collection..:-)

The temple is a huge complex with many halls and pavilions, masterpieces of Taoist architecture. Of course there is a zigzag bridge..:-) Less common is a stone boat. THe temple is located at the edge of the village, near to the lake.



Rocky outrcrops





Vitruvian man?



After our temple visit, we walked back, of course taking more pictures.
Next on our list was the Shen mansion, the largest residential building of Zhouzhuang. It was built in 1742 (Qing dynasty) by a wealthy business tycoon.
The ground floor consists of connected courtyards, the living quarters are on the first floor. Apparently more than 100 rooms.


zigzag bridge



Pavement detail

Typical Suzhou: white and grey

Smelly Taufu shop

I had to try this. Not nice

Our noodle dinner

Beautiful view of the temple complex

Time for lunch. Looking for a suitable eatery, we passed a handicraft shop where people were working on a loom and a spinning wheel. It looked quite easy, but when Pat tried it, it was actually not...:-)
Nice friendly people, we bought beautiful handwoven shirts.
We were not very hungry, found a nice old-fashioned tea shop.

Breakfast with bread and coffee

Entrance City God Temple

Entrance hall

Many halls follow

Symbolic bridge

A visit of ZhouZhuang is not complete without a boat trip through the canals. Well organised, there is a jetty where boats and boatmen are waiting. Fixed price, like the taxi serviced at KLIA..:-). Our boat had actually a boat-lady. From a boat you have a different perspective, very relaxing. For some extra money the boatman/lady will sing a few songs.

One of the halls with deities



Many more

Pray here with a baby-wish

Couples can declare their love here

Kind of love-locks

End of our visit

Would be easier than walking


The next morning we had a last walk in this picturesque village. Our next destination, before going to Shanghai, was a very special one, a wish of Aric to visit the Yangcheng lake, the origin of the Hairy Crabs, an (expensive) Chinese delicacy. They are only available in autumn and prized for the female crab roe. Around the lake there are many restaurant that serve the crabs. In season! Getting there by public transport is complicated, we were lucky that the owner of a smelly taufu shop (!) was willing to act as a taxi driver.

Entrance Pan Men

Ruiguang Pagoda

Climbing up and down!

Reaching the top floor

View from the pagoda

Looking back to the pagoda

The Drum

Aric had booked a hotel near the lake. We were a bit shocked when we arrived, the hotel looked desolate and the reception had problems to understand us. But the rooms were ok and it became clear soon that the crab season was just starting!

Not far from the hotel was the Chongyuan Temple, dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Interesting history, the original contsruction goes back to 503 AD. But during the madness of the Chinese Cultural Revolution the temple was completely destroyed! Later it was entirely rebuilt and officially reopened in 2007.

It is a huge complex near to the lake,we walked around, visited a few halls. In one of them we had a vegetarian lunch. We were the only customers, during weekends it must be crowded.

And the Bell

Notice how shiny the head is!

Zigzag gallery

Even a waterfall

Zigzag bridge

Nice scenery

The Wu Men bridge

View of Wu Men bridge and Grand Canal

The Pan land gate

The water gate

Modern Suzhou by night

The temple is famous for its statue of Guan Yin on, the goddess of Mercy, inside a pagoda built on a small island. The statue is 33 m high, not easy to take a picture of the goddess. Good that there are elevators...:-) From the top floor you have a wide view of the lake.

Chang Men gate by night

Ordering a snack

Taking a rest with coffee and snack

Map of the old part of Suzhou

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