China 2005

On our last day many of us opted to go to Suzhou (100 kms from Shanghai) for a day trip so we set out early and arrived with the sun shining. Suzhou is located in the south of the Yangtze River Delta and borders Taihu Lake to the west and Shanghai to the east. It is an oriental water city as well as a famous historical and cultural center with a history going back 2,500 years. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, there were some 200 gardens and the city was renowned both in China and abroad for its small but elegant private gardens. Suzhou is just a tiny city of 5 million compared to the other two we visited. We started out with a cruise. A Venice-like layout with tiny bridges sitting gracefully on rivulets and streams, running parallel with the streets. You could spot people doing their washing on the nearby Taihu rocks.

Next a visit to the Garden of Master Nets, a garden of extreme harmony and tranquility. Designed during the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) this garden is reputed to be the most well-preserved garden in Suzhou and should not be missed. It has three distinct sections and the buildings afford you access to any part of the garden from each of their rooms. This type of garden was built to relax and entertain guests in. It must have been something to see it being built. On the world cultural heritage site list and also open at night so that visitors can attend theatrical performances and enjoy the night scenery.

Then on to an embroidery factory where we saw the most incredible embroidery done. Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute in the Circular-Grace Garden is staffed with a team of top-notch embroidery masters in the tradition of one of China's four eminent schools of embroidery. The cyclamen looked as if it was real, the koi seemed to swim in mid can see right through this background. Very intensive work and so beautiful to see.

Our last stop for the day was to Huqiu Hill or Tiger Hill. This was another place that I would have liked more time to experience. It was beautiful and built so that you had to walk around to enjoy it all. The pagoda was built in 961 and yes it is slanted a bit more than two meters off it's axial. I walked all around it and it was quite noticeable but that happened many, many years ago.

The last three pictures before our final meal are those of coming back from Suzhou to Shanghai. The new is replacing the old. This was very evident where ever we went. I have never seen so many cranes as I have seen here. Because bikes are a mode of transportation for many, where ever they work has to be close to where they live, so many communities are built up around the factories that they work in.

As you can see our final meal was a feast not only for the eyes, but for the palate as well. Every dish just got better and better until finally desert arrived and it truly was delectable. When we arrived back at the hotel a lot of us headed off to shop again while the rest headed to the Bund to see the buildings lit up at night. Some of us then came back to meet Steve, Sam and friends for what else, karaoke!

I scanned a photo that each of us received from CNTO Toronto as a memento of our trip to the Great Wall and lovely reminder of all who came on this tour. Steve and Sam did a wonderful job of keeping us on track, keeping us together and making sure that we were all enjoying our time in China. We surely did. I had the pleasure of giving Sam final words and with that gave him my Canada Maple Leaf done in gold as a reminder to him to wear it each time he was escorting a Canadian group.

Again a very special thank you to CITS, Sam, just about the best organizer in the business! CNTO, Steve So, I think he was surprised at our excitement! Marketing Manager Air China, who arranged for our flights to China from Vancouver as well as domestic flights within






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