Recent tour to China was amazing. China has made impressive progress and it is a beautiful country. We also lucked out with minimal smog problems. Hangzhou and Suzhou are two of the most beautiful countries in Eastern China.
Hangzhou (pronounced Hangjo) was once capital of China and is famous for its gorgeous WestLake, Su Causeway, and Longjing Tea and White Chrysanthemum Tea. We strolled through the gorgeous garden and our guide had a tough time keeping us together because we wanted to stop every few steps for pictures. There is apparently a Chinese saying “Above there is heaven, below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou”. Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the 13th century and described the city as “without doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world”. The city has also been immortalized by countless poets and artists and our guide kept us entertained with various stories including one of “Butterfly Lovers”. We then took a river cruise which offered more gorgeous views and then ended up at the Green Tea Village, where we had incredible tea demonstration with information on various benefits of tea, demonstrations of how the antioxidants in the tea change the color of uncooked rice, absolutely lovely “lyrical, rhythmic, sensuous” pouring of tea, and absolutely fabulous super packing of tea leaves for those who decided to buy. And who wouldn’t? I saw some of the best marketing in China (more on that in another blog).
Suzhou, in Jiangsu province in Eastern China is on the shores of Taihu Lake, a part of Yangtze River Delta is aptly called “Venice of the East”. As per our guide, this is the richest province in China and Suzhou is one of the richest cities. Suzhou was found in 514 BC and has 2,500 years of rich history. They were beautiful sunny days when we toured the city. All of China is lovely but this is an especially gorgeous city, with canals, stone bridges, pagodas and lovely gardens. We took a river cruse on the Grand Canal of the Oriental Venice, took tons of pictures and the tour ended in a village where we walked through the market. Everyone bought some dry street food, roasted peanuts, roasted water chestnuts, bakery items, exotic fruits, berries and shared with each other. Later we strolled through the Lingering Garden, absolutely gorgeous garden where all buildings are beautifully ordered, with picturesque views in all directions. We also visited the silk spinning factory, which was quite amazing. Seeing so many larvae grown and boiled and sacrificed for the beautiful garment, I also decided that (while I will continue to wear the silk I have), I will not buy silk again. All in all, visit to Suzhou was a like a refresher for all the senses.