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April 29, 2012

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Suzhou Creek cruises set sail

CRUISES along Suzhou Creek resume today, after a gap of a year while the waterway was being dredged.

Trips will follow a new route almost twice as long as the previous one, from the site of Shanghai's earliest industries to the Bund.

Tickets are available at docks on Danba Road and Changhua Road in Putuo District.

It costs 200 yuan (US$31.75) for a round trip between the Danba Road Dock and Waibaidu Bridge in Huangpu District, while an evening cruise ticket is 230 yuan.

In a trial sailing yesterday, invited passengers included 10 people who had lived on the banks of the creek but were relocated when the area was landscaped.

"Many old residential houses have been replaced by gardens and new buildings, but some historic structures are still there," said a visitor surnamed Liu.

The new cruise covers 19 kilometers, compared to 10 kilometers previously, with a round trip taking three hours.

"The cruise winds its way under around 20 bridges, each with its own history and stories," said senior pilot Feng Xuecong.

Historic industrial buildings along the creek banks include the city's match and spinning factories, as well as Saint John's College - China's first modern university - and the earliest guild for foreign merchants.

Boat are fitted with GPS to automatically broadcast information on sections of the river as they are reached. An English version will be available soon, said Feng.

Operating the route will be two types of vessel, an enclosed boat that can take 25 passengers and an open one with nine seats.

A 90-minute round trip between the Danba Road Dock and the Changhua Road Dock in Putuo District will cost 130 yuan.

Meanwhile, the Italy Pavilion, one of the most popular venues in the World Expo 2010, reopened with new exhibits yesterday, attracting 3,000 visitors.

Renamed the Shanghai Italian Center, it showcases Italian art, cuisine and handicrafts. Attractions include a replica of Michelangelo's "David."

Also yesterday, the cherry blossom festival that began on March 30 in Gucun Park in northern Baoshan District ended, having attracted 1.16 million visitors - 60 percent more than last year.


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