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July 1, 2015

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A city called the ‘Venice of the East’

TWO-FIFTHS of Suzhou’s municipal boundaries are in water, including Taihu Lake and the Grand Canal. The city has been called the “Venice of the East.” In China, it’s more simply referred to as a traditional “water town.”

A winding river meanders through the city, and boats can still be seen plying its waters. Suzhou sits on the famed Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

Suzhou natives love to sleep to the lullaby sounds of rippling waterways.

The city is full of bridges, many old and beautiful. History is written across the spans. Many visitors enjoy taking a day out to visit all the bridges and sense centuries past under their feet. At minimum, the tour should take in Baodai Bridge, Wu Gate Bridge, Hushan Bridge and Wulong Bridge. Each has a story to tell.

There is something about the combination of bridges and water that is especially evocative on a misty day, when magic seems to hang in the air and a deep sense of being in another world pervades the soul.

Then, too, it’s also fun to take a river or canal cruise to see the bridges from an entirely new perspective. The popular Grand Canal cruise affords not only gorgeous nighttime views but also a traditional tea service and a bit of live pingtan opera performed by a beautiful lute player. Love of water in Suzhou also extends to several famous ancient wells that are open to visitors at temple sites.


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