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Stories about Suzhou

Red ants and mooncakes

This week I am a little uninspired. Plenty of things are happening but all I feel like is taking a nap. I had to abandon my plan to write about the lovely box of mooncakes we received from our landlord on Sunday because I found the box empty the next day (this did not inspire me). Someone accidentally ate them all and it wasn’t me since it turns out I don’t like mooncakes. Even though they are all slightly different, I feel disappointed every time. It’s like picking the wrong chocolate from a box that doesn’t have one of those handy explanation cards.

I really want to like mooncakes, because they look so gorgeous from the outside and the whole idea of them is very romantic. But even if I did, evidently the box would not last untill the festival moon which is when you are supposed to eat them. Gazing at the full moon while holding hands and floating sky lanterns (that’s the romantic bit).

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The Pants

Having just moved into our new apartment we have started to explore our immediate surroundings. One thing we will not be getting away from is the new development that is being build right on our doorstep. So far there have been no sleepless nights and it all just looks very exciting. There is activity day and night and from the window of one of the rooms you can watch them working, like little men in a model village. They are all housed on site so the commute to work looks pretty easy (this on-site living is very normal over here for people working on building sites and even in factories).

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Venice of the East

When I visited Suzhou earlier this year, with the aim of putting my stamp of approval on the whole ‘moving to China’ project, I thought calling the place the ‘Venice of the East’ was a bit of a stretch. As I was only here for a week and spent most of it either tired, overwhelmed or looking at shopping malls or supermarkets (don’t ask), not much sightseeing was accomplished.

One day last week as I was walking around the old town (well I was at stop two of my ‘let’s get off at every metro station, look around and if it looks anyway decent, go for a wander’ game), I found this tiny little old street called ‘Ping Jiang Lu’ (Lu meaning road) which ran along a narrow canal with some lovely arch bridges. I quickly realized that this street is probably in every guide book (obviously we didn’t have one the last time…) but I didn’t care because it was very nice and I was beginning to get on board with the whole ‘Venice of the East’ thing.

Ping Jiang Lu

The ancient cobblestone road is aligned with trees, cafes, some of the oldest tea houses in this area, and my favorite, a few small shops selling cards and paper goods.

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Suzhou Metro

I had the pleasure to try out the new Suzhou metro line 1 this week, the first of the planned four lines which opened at the end April this year (line 2 contruction is planned to be completed by 2014 – will I be here to witness it, who knows…). The design is pretty much identical to the Shanghai metro and very easy to navigate. Tickets range from 2-6 RMB ($0.30/€0.25 – $0.94/€0.76), my ride being just 2 RMB!

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