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July 1, 2015

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City moat cruise a moonlight odyssey

It is impossible to appreciate Suzhou to its fullest without an evening cruise down the ancient moat of the city.

It is one of the top highlights for visitors, an experience not to be missed.

When the streetlights come on and the moon comes out, Suzhou is transformed into a magical place of great enchantment.

The 1-hour cruise started from Xinshi Bridge, passing through Panmen Gate and then under the Panlong, Renmin, Nanyuan and Midu bridges. The return trip passed under the Wannian, Guxu, Ganjiang, Jingde and Nanxing bridges, and the Changmen Gate Drawbridge, before depositing passengers back at Xinshi Bridge.

The scenery along the route was mesmerizing. The whitewashed houses with gray tiled roofs and the greenery along the shores took on a special glow under night lights. From all sides of the cruise ship are sights to delight eyes: Panmen Gate, the statue of Wu Zixu and the dancing night lights of the city.

The cruise guide pointed out some of the history that followed us along the waterway. “It is said Midu Bridge was known as Miedu Bridge in ancient times,” she said.

“Mie means ‘stop’ in Chinese and du means ’cross’. And that’s just about the situation that confronted the people who lived here in yesteryear. They had only a ferry boat available to get them across the canal, and the boat was monopolized by greedy businessmen, leaving no transport for common folk.”

The story goes that a gentle monk then raised money to build a bridge, hence Midu Bridge.

Adding to the fun, passengers were entertained with a bit of Chinese opera, provided by a lovely woman wearing the traditional qipao and playing a lute. She sang pingtan, the city’s famous local opera, in Suzhou dialect.

The music lingered in our minds as we disembarked from a thoroughly pleasurable experience.

(Chen Ye)


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