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Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Venice of Asia - Suzhou - The best to see in China

The walk along the canal is beautiful. Along the canal run a long semi-pedestrianized street,
where most of the shops and the restaurants for the tourists in Suzhou are situated.

Suzhou is maybe not as beautiful and idyllic as the Chinese people describe this town an hour and a half away from Shanghai with the ultra modern and ultra fast train.

Suzhou is know as the Venice of the East.

It is only partly a good definition. Suzhou has in common with Venice the canals and, for the Chinese opinion, a romantic charm, although the second  feature appears much less evident than the first one.

Totally unexpected was my exploration of the town at 7 am in the morning.

Pestered by the mosquitoes and the humid heat  (two unadvertised features of the Venice of the East) I decided to give up  my attempts to go back to sleep and I started to walk in a semi deserted town.


The walk along the canal is beautiful.
Along the canal run a long semi-pedestrianized street
The mist was lifting from the water of the canals adding to the canals something old and romantic, although a little bit smelly too.

The walk along the canal is beautiful. Along the canal run a long semi-pedestrianized street, where most of the shops and the restaurants for the tourists in Suzhou are situated.

I walked to the main Taoist temple in Suzhou to discover in the large shady courtyards all the amazing activity of Suzhou oldest generation!

Lifting legs above their heads and kicking rapidly the air the old people of Suzhou don't look old at all. They look actually much more fitted and sporty than the younger people, often over weight and very slow in their movements.

In front of the main Taoist Temple in Suzhou, dozens middle aged men and women were dancing in rhythm. They were the wonderful witnesses of the  fabulous Chinese long life.


A central pond and its bamboo garden, the geometric pagodas and the lake stones
(also in modern geometric style) are the main courtyard of Suzhou Museum.
From discovery to discovery the Suzhou Museum was really a good one and as soon as it opened its doors I was the first to enter the museum to visit it.

What a surprise!

Finally a museum in China where beautiful art pieces are exhibited with taste and love so than the visitor feels an interest and a connection with them.

Till I visited Suzhou Museum when I visited a museum in China I felt as if walking through the different rooms and exhibits was like browsing the pages of an old art catalogue, where beautiful and less beautiful items are coldly listed one after the other one, without much description and most of the time without much connection.

Here at Suzhou museum I finally felt clearly a connection between the different items exhibited. 

Suzhou was for me the star gate to the Chinese universe. 


Suzhou was for me the star gate to the Chinese universe. 
Finally after having visited Suzhou museum I was able to say that I have understood more of the fascinating Chinese art.

I believe this is what a good a museum has to be. 

Not just a collection of beautiful items, but a door to a world, an era, a country, a style.

Suzhou museum is a very beautiful building in itself. 

The modern design and the contrast between the black and the white of its walls is extremely interesting.

A central pond and its bamboo garden, the geometric pagodas and the lake stones (also in modern geometric style) are the main courtyard of Suzhou Museum.
A wonderful Chinese old ship in jade with a fisherman on the boat
shaped so well to look almost alive

The design of the museum is a wonderful modern representation and tribute to the wonderful House of the Master of Net, one of the most beautiful things in Suzhou (read the dedicated the post to the House and the Garden of the Master of Net).

Some of the exhibits are magnificent: a wonderful Chinese old ship in jade with a fisherman on the boat shaped so well to look almost alive is in my opinion one of the best features of the museum.

Another great object is the wonderful fang of an elephant pictured below and wonderfully carved in the ivory. 





One room of Suzhou Museum is particularly interesting. It displays a typical Ming studio. 

This reproduction of a Ming studio dates back to the XV Century. 

The design of the library in the Ming Studio looks so impressively modern that is unbelievable to think that this style doesn't belong to our own century.

Finally at the end of the museum a room is dedicated to Lin Dan, a contemporary, although classical in his style, painter. 

What a wonderful work of precision are his paintings of classical Chinese subjects: lakes stones and flowers painted in a way to appear more beautiful than the real one, as this is the aim of the classical art in China.
The best part of the walls is probably the one in front
of the modern and stylish Suzhou train station

They say classical Chinese artists research in their work the quintessence of art, it seems that Lin Dan was able to make his research  profitable.

Before to leave Suzhou the last sight should be for the imposing walls, similar to the one of Xian and Pingyao.

The best part of the walls is probably the one in front of the modern and stylish Suzhou train station, where the huge statue of Confucius is collocated.

Suzhou is probably not as idyllic as it is described by the Chinese people, but if only the historic gardens and the magnificent buildings like the House of the Master of the Nets were able to force the encirclement of modernity built around them, then Suzhou would live again his rich, noble and romantic history.

Suzhou has also a very large modern area, but differently from many other cities in China is not ugly and anonymous: it is actually quite beautiful!


Suzhou is surrounded by water and it is around the Taihu Lake that
the most interesting part of the modern area is concentrated.
Suzhou is surrounded by water and it is around the Taihu Lake that the most interesting part of the modern area is concentrated.

The beautiful Taihu Lake is surrounded by a walk pedestranized with some beautiful statues of Botero and an amazing skyscraper in the shape of the Triumph Arc of Paris.

I have to say that although daring, it is beautiful architecture and some how adds something to the charm of Suzhou.  
It is a complete different setting if compared with the old town, but exactly for this reason Suzhou is so interesting.


Suzhou or Paris? The Arc de Triomphe - style skyscraper.




Are you planning to travel to China?




Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



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