I went to Suzhou today, located approx 1 hours train ride north west of Shanghai on the grand canal. A city of gardens, my favourite is the ‘Humble Administrators’ garden, which has the most beautiful gateways and lattice work screens giving glimpses of the manicured trees and magnificent rock structures beyond…

Walkways and bridges tread there way through the vistas, traversing ponds full of fat goldfish and the odd turtle

The Chinese love to have their photo taken, so at each turn, family members line up to pose in front of the new ’scene’… providing an excellent photo opportunity for the voyeur…

One of the gardens had the most extraordinary collection of ‘flower arrangements’ encompassing pieces of twisted metal, or grids of bamboo, with out and explanation in english, I could only image that they were for some sort of local flower arrangement competition

Then a visit to a magnificent pagoda and temple area cloistered by monks who were quite officious…

And then the toilets… in this case, a long trough providing tiny screens for privacy… my position provided me with a fabulous view of half a dozen ’sweet young things’ dressed to the nines for their weekend family outing… all talking on their mobiles with their bottoms in the air… a perfect photo opportunity missed!

Then lunch at a local restaurant, fish, rice, sea based creatures and soup, which I shared with a family from Sichuan and back onto the ‘barge’ for a tour of the canal – not unlike the train from Newcastle going through the inner city suburbs where you can observe the residents cooking, washing, cleaning or just sitting enjoying the sun

And finally after being released from the tour guide… back to the station to catch a train which is half an hour late, every seat has been triple booked and 50 people crowd each door to get on while another 50 try to get off

Quite a friendly experience really, once you’ve worked out which seat is ‘really’ yours and who your travel companions are…

I saw a very young boy ( 3 or 4 years old) at the station who was being tormented by a crowd of locals… his frustration rose to the point where he pulled down his pants, ran at the crowd and proceeded to wee on them … very primal


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