Suzhou Smile

During spring break of March in 1997, I visited China with the OSU Chamber Choir. Most choirs choose more “prestigious” or obvious locations such as Italy, Austria or the UK. But, our director had just returned from a recent tour of China with another chamber choir and decided that we should do the same. Our visit included daily tours and nightly performances in Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing. It was an awesome experience and one which made my choice to move to China much easier. When asked my favorite part of my trip here in 1997, I always said that I loved Suzhou as it was much less developed then Beijing and Shanghai and it was dripping with gorgeous silk road history.

When Jim expressed a desire to escape from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, my first suggestion was to spend a weekend in Suzhou. Shanghai’s population is estimated to be between 19-29 million (no one knows for sure because of the fluctuating population) so when we decided to get out of the big city, we visited the “quaint little hamlet” of Suzhou whose population is a mere 5.9 million.

Thanks so my friend Melanie, who purchased our train tickets, Jim, Jameson and I boarded a high-speed bullet train at the Shanghai Train Station early on Saturday morning. Each car had an odometer that showed that we went 300 kilometers per hour. It took a short 30 minutes before we were in the “little” town of Suzhou.

Since 1997, Suzhou has changed a lot and has been industrialized more than I would have liked to have seen. But, the gardens and pagodas continue to delight visitors with their grace, dignity and beauty just as I remembered from 13 years ago.

We visited the Suzhou Silk Museum

Silk worms feast on mulberry leaves before they build a chrysalis or cocoon

Jameson taking imaginary silk for a spin

Then the northern Temple Pagoda, which boasts the highest Pagoder in Suzhou

The temple contains a portion of the original Suzhou city wall

Pagoders make great playgrounds

Suzhou Smile

and finally the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the most famous Garden in Suzhou.

The garden was packed... but still worth the visit

Our weekend trip was a much-needed respite, but now we look forward to our trip home. We are scheduled to fly out on Friday, but Jameson has been sick for a week with a bad cough. I took him in to see the pediatrician on Monday who informed me that he is on his way to getting pneumonia. Therefore, we are spending the week at home doing nebulizer treatments four times a day while trying to get him well before our trip. I am praying that Jameson is completely well by tomorrow morning so that he will not be uncomfortable on our flight home (and so that everyone else on the plane will also not be uncomfortable :)

Either way, we are coming home for our first visit in seven months!  Ni hao!

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