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IMG_1319We treated Suzhou as most Chinese would treat Amsterdam: we spent one day and one night, did the main things and moved on again. It was only a 1-hour train ride away from Shanghai so why not? Once we walked from the impressive train-station to the Bestay guesthouse we took free (and pretty crappy) bicycles they provided and rode off into town. The historic (read: touristic) part of Suzhou you’ll find within a rectangular-shaped area surrounded by a canal and this is easy to get around in by bike or scooter. The main attraction are the pretty gardens and narrow alleys along small canals with little bridges (yes, all quite petite).

DSC_0064Close to our guesthouse we climbed up the 9-storey North Temple Pagoda and had a nice view of the both old and new part of town. We also liked the Suzhou Museum, mainly for it’s modern, spacious and light set up with a mix of exhibitions inside and a pond and seating-areas outside. On our way by bike manoeuvring through one of the narrow alleys filled with people, we stopped at a place with a terrace (we didn’t see many of these) which turned out to be a Danish bakery with an actual Dane behind the counter. This friendly gentleman suggested us amongst others to make our way down south to the Pan gate at a quiet and beautiful garden with Ruiguan pagoda and canal-view and most importantly without hordes of tourists. In the end we never made it as Mark’s bike started to break down and we had to take it back. Good story?

DSC_0100The evening was a bigger success: this time we walked back through the alleys which gave us (read: Lucia) a chance to have a good look at what the small shops had on offer. Dumplings seemed to be the main delicacy, we already had some really good sesame-seed-topped ones in the afternoon and now we stopped at a sweet dumpling-DSC_0117stand and tried a few out of their large variety on offer. The dumpling-story continued in the evening when we tried even more different kinds in a traditional restaurant called Pingvon overlooking the alley. One of the reasons for picking this restaurant was that it was close to our final destination for that evening: a tea-house with traditional Pingtan singing entertainment.

DSC_0127DSC_0111Pingtan is traditional combination of storytelling, ballad singing and instrument playing. It is usually a one-man/woman-show and the stories are mostly Chinese classics. You order a glass of tea (large variety) for just under 100 yuan (12 euro) each (what!!!??) that you can top up the entire evening (we drank a lot) and wait for the show to start.  It’s hard to explain what it was like, but sometimes it was pleasant, sometimes it sounded like a strangled cat, but mostly it was entertaining and we enjoyed sitting there for about two hours. Here’s an impression:

We went back to our guesthouse with buzzing ears and took an early train (7 hours long) the next morning to Xiamen.

Click on this link for pictures of Suzhou.

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Suzhou sme ponali asi tak ako by vacsina cinskych turistov ponala Amsterdam: ostali sme na jeden den a jednu noc, presli sme hlavne atrakcie mesta a isli dalej. Suzhou je len hodinu cesty vlakom zo Shanghaja, tak preco nie. Ked sme prisli z uz klasicky cinsky ohromnej vlakovej stanice do naseho hostela, ubytovali sme sa a hned vyrazili do mesta na bicykloch, ktore boli v cene pobytu. Historicke (a turisticke) centrum Suzhou sa nachadza v stvorcovej oblasti, okolo ktorej su vystavane kanaly a da sa v nom lahko pohybovat na bicykli alebo na skutri. Hlavnymi atrakciami mesta su zahrady a pavilony a uzke ulicky s malymi mostami cez vodne kanaly ktorymi je centrum prepletene.

Blizko hostela sme sa vysplhali na 9 poschodovu pagodu s vyhladom na novu i staru cast mesta. Dorporucujeme aj prehliadku Suzhou Muzea (ktore je zdarma), ktore nas zaujalo svojou modernou a priestrannou budovou plnou svetla, samotnou vystavou historickych predmetov a zahradami s jazierkom. Manevrujuc na bicykloch pomedzi davy turistov v uzkych ulickach sme sa dostali k terase (nevideli sme ich vela) Danskej pekarne, ktoru viedol dokonca skutocny Dan. Tento mily pan nam poradil, ktore miesta by sme si nemali ujst, mimo ine napriklad mestsku branu Pan a pri nej zahradu s pagodou, v ktorej sa urcite vyhneme hordam turistov. Na cestu sme sa vydali, ale nikdy nedorazili, kedze Markov bicykel zacal strajkovat a my sme sa museli vratit naspat do hostela. Dobry pribeh, ze?

Vecer bol o nieco uspesnejsi: tentokrat po vlastnych sme sa vydali cez uzke ulicky znova a konecne sme (Lucia) mali moznost si prehliadnut vsetky obchodiky a vsetky cetky a umelecke dielka, ktore sa tu predavali. Z jedal, knedlicky boli najcastejsie na ponuke. Na obed sme mali jedni vynikajuce posypane sezamovymi semienkami a teraz sme sa zastavili u sladkych verzii (niektore tvaru mysky alebo inych zvieratiek) a par ochutnali. Knedlickova story pokracovala i dalej ked sme sa na veceru zastavili v tradicnej restauracii menom Pingvon. Jeden z dovodov vyberu tejto restauracie bolo, ze hned vedla sme chceli stihnut to, co bolo cielom tohoto vecera: cajovna s predstavenim tradicneho Pingtanu.

Pingtan je tradicna kombinacia vypravania, spevu balad a hrania na tradicny nastroj. Vacsinou ‘one-man/woman-show’ sa zvacsa toci okolo klasickych cinskych pribehov. Povinna objenavka k sledovaniu predstavenia je salka caju za okolo 100 yuanov (12 Eur) (ANO, dobre vidis!), ktora je nastastie aspon bezodna, a pocas vecera si ju mozete nekonecne dolievat vodou, co sme patricne vyuzili. Je tazke opisat toto pingtanove vystupenie: niekedy prijemne, niekedy ako ked niekto skrti macku, ale vacsinou zabavne a zaujimave, co dokazuje to, ze sme to vydrzali 2 hodiny. Pozrite si malu ukazku vo videu hore v anglickom texte.

Do hostelu sme sa vracali so zvonenim v usiach a rano sme naskocili na skory ranny vlak do Xiamenu.

Kliknite sem na galeriu fotografii zo Suzhou.

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