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the ancient "Garden of Fisherman's Nets'

sunny 22 °C
View 1985 on 1985 trip's travel map.

Wednesday 17th April
Wake early with the rest of the boat. A magical mist cloaks our progress, other ghostly shapes slip past, the familiar sounds of a Chinese morning ring clearly through the fog. The splosh of the very productive throats can be heard disturbing the calm canal.
Get to Soochow rather behind schedule at 8 p.m. Catch bus number one which is regulated by serve the people grannies with loud whistles. Straight up the Renmin Lu. Get off at the right stop and wander to Lesxian hotel in the centre of town. I have decided that unless a bed is available hassle free I will catch the last train to Shanghai to night. We’re getting the usual nothing available and certainly no dormitories when a Hong Kong Chinese couple, resplendent with technological aids the surviving China, arrive and we share a four-bedroom for 32 yuan.
Walk all morning through Suzhou’s delightful streets and alleys, getting glimpses into centuries old courtyards, cross over high arched marble bridges under which flow stinking narrow canals, large shit boats being skulled along to the next public convenience. Houses lean over the canals, and canals side gardens have been planted.
The Ninlin is in this part of the town, another holiday camp like place, likewise the Soochow just down the road which houses CITS. They have no idea if there’s opera in town until I ask them to look in the local paper. There wasn’t.
Explore the Garden for Fishermen’s Nets and eat some cakes while Chinese pose on rocks and under boughs of blossom for photographs. Enjoy the water architecture and very low maintenance aspects of these gardens, especially the way you can wander from secluded corner to tranquil courtyard and get glimpses of something else round corner. What the Chinese love most about their gardens are the rocks, these however are in the worst traditions of fairground grottoes.
Walk back to Lexian. Miraculously avoid cutting my thumb when I put it through a glass jar of orange pieces. It was a struggle to open it, and juice ran away under the bed. We were able to rescue the pieces of fruit with chopsticks. After south-east Asia I have a serious fruit deficit, the quality and availability of fruit is very poor in China. For this reason I lavished praises upon the rescued orange segments, this was rather more than they deserved.
In the late afternoon take a wander around the bazaar area. There is an old temple here of traditional wooden construction which has two large Buddhas and several arts and crafts shops inside. The commercial aspect of Buddhist temples seems irreligious to me. The Temple seems to be an active place of worship with an old man fussing around the Temple furniture, various large percussion instruments, and people lighting incense sticks.
Private stalls thrive around this area and those even a small food market. The proprietors tout for business with enthusiasm and persistence. This is way we eat. It was nothing special.
Search for Jazz at the Soochow but the Jazz is being re-decorated so have a foul coffee and wander back in the dark. M. who is still in her first week is rather apprehensive about traveling around China, as she finds the conditions worse than India.

Posted by 1985 trip 16:00 Archived in China

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