Water Towns

One cannot truly understand the meaning of fickle until they've experienced spring and summer in this part of the world. Although today might reach tops of 30, tomorrow could be 15 degrees and pouring buckets. There's also a saying in Hangzhou that "Spring only lasts for two weeks", meaning that within this short timeframe, you get to experience overall comfortable conditions but once the two weeks are up, y'all gotta brace yourself for constant scorching, face-melting heatwaves.

Lion's Grove Garden (Suzhou)

I went to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang for a long weekend about 6 weeks back and although this was about midway through spring (which in Australia means pleasantly warm weather) east China obviously didn't get the memo. It rained almost the entire time we were there, as if the universe was saying, "These waiguoren (foreigners) wanted to see water? Alright, let's give them some water".

But even through the rain, it was easy to see why Suzhou attracts so many tourists all year round. The gardens are stunning and diverse and there are some really impressive bridges throughout the city. At times it felt like I'd stepped into a scene of a Chinese historical drama. There is actually a Chinese proverb which captures the sentiment perfectly:

"上有天堂,下有蘇杭"Translation: "Paradise in Heaven; Suzhou and Hangzhou on Earth"


I could have done without the constant barrage of umbrellas in my face though. The streets of Zhouzhuang are cramped enough. Add about a bijillion tourists from the long weekend, half as many umbrellas, unceasing downpours, a couple of overzealous tour guides and the constant pervasive stench of stinky tofu (why China why??) and you can see why our enjoyment of Zhouzhuang might have been dampened.

You've gotta admit - when China sets out to do something, it does it well...and also on an unnecessarily large scale
I mean, did you really need to build a bridge that high?

Nonetheless, I still had a good time. I loved the heritage and elegance that Suzhou had to offer and Zhouzhuang was quaint (if a bit over-commercialized). You can tell that it's a place which thrives off tourism, not that there's anything wrong with that. Company was great as well and that was the most important thing. It's amazing how much bonding time you can get when you spend long periods of time huddled under the one small umbrella. I'll probably come back one day anyway and have another wander through the streets

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