原创翻译:28大神—加拿大28 http://mpfv.cn 翻译:超级凉快 转载请注明出处



Yesterday it was the Duanwu Festival. Duanwu is a traditional holiday in which people eat zongzi (glutionous rice wrapped in a leaf) and watch the dragon boat races. Why do they do this? Because a long time ago, in the Warring States period, there was a poet who commited suicide jumping in the river. The villagers quickly went with their boats to save him or retrieve the body, but couldn’t find it, so they threw rice balls in the water for the fish to eat them instead of the poet’s body. Duanwu stopped being celebrated in China after 1949 when the People’s Republic was founded, but it was restored as a public holiday in 2008 (so tomorrow we don’t work. Yay!).


I have been in China for many years but I have to confess I had never been to the dragon boat races until yesterday. In Suzhou they are done in the Jinji Lake, very close to our apartment, so we made the great effort of getting up early on a Saturday and went to see what it was all about. Besides, some of C.’s colleagues were competing in the race!


It was very interesting to finally see the races, but it was too hot and crowded and we didn’t stay long. Anyway, I’m glad the government decided to restore the traditional holidays, even if that means we don’t get a week off for May 1 anymore!





As we had three days of holidays last week, we decided to go somewhere instead of couchpotatoing the whole time. We were considering Chongming Island, in Shanghai, and Xishan Island, in Suzhou, and finally went to Xishan.


Xishan is the largest island in Tai Lake so it is not a palm trees and beach kind of island. Tai Lake, the third largest lake in China, is to the southwest of Suzhou and it is famous for its fish, shrimps and crabs. Getting to Xishan is very convenient as there is a bridge from the “mainland”! When C. was a child, the only way was taking the ferry.





As I mentioned in the post about books, since October I don’t have a room in Shanghai anymore and I have to commute every day from Suzhou. That implies taking 2 trains.


Does it sound exhausting? Well, it is actually better than I was expecting. The worst parts are getting up early in the morning and arriving home quite late! I don’t have time to do much during the week, but at least I can read on the train. A full one way journey takes 1.5 hours, which is more or less the same time it takes my colleagues who live in Pudong to arrive to our office in Jing’An.


I leave home at 8 am. C. drives me to the train station, which luckily is quite close. The train departs at 8:28 but you have to arrive at least 5 minutes earlier to get in. By the way, if anyone needs to take the high speed train frequently, between Nanjing and Shanghai or any of the stations in between, you can purchase a top up card and access the train without needing to buy the actual ticket every time.


The bad part about that card is that, even though you pay the full price, you don’t get a seat. So, unless there is an empty seat, you will have to stand for 30 minutes, which is the duration of the trip from Suzhou Yuanqu station to Shanghai.


If I don’t have a seat I just stand near the door of the second carriage, because it will be the closest to the exit gate in the station. When the train arrives to Shanghai it’s better to hurry up and be the first to get to the gate, because there you have to check your ticket again and everybody knows how Chinese people queue…


There is a subway exit directly in the train station. Line 1 is always crowded, but every day at around 9:05 am there is an empty train arriving.


That’s my daily commute. But only until January, when I will start working from home!





Two weeks ago, a couple of my workmates came to Suzhou to spend the weekend with us. I asked what they wanted to visit in the city, they only said “old things”. Well, we have a bunch of those in Suzhou! So I tailor-made an itinerary for them and I consciously avoided the main tourist attractions in Suzhou, like the Tiger Hill and the Humble Administrator’s garden. Why? Because they have ridiculously expensive entrance tickets. To give you an idea, in low season, the ticket to the Forbidden City in Beijing is 40 RMB. For the Humble Administrator’s garden it is 70. Are they crazy or not? Also, because my workmates are vegan, I found several vegetarian restaurants where we could go eat and then looked for cheap, nice places we could visit nearby. We saved a lot on entrance tickets and spent it all on food!


These are the places we visited:


Qu garden (曲园). Address: 人民路马医科巷43号 (close to subway stop Leqiao). Price: free!


I had never heard about this garden before but I found it online. It was the house of some government official from the Qing dynasty. It is a small garden, but you can see all the characteristics that the big gardens also have, albeit in a smaller size: the red wooden pavilions, the rock “mountain” with a maze, the fish pond, the calligraphy… And, I repeat, for free. And without crowds. The only visitors in the garden were a young mom with her son sitting in the garden and a bunch of old ladies rehearsing their singing in one of the pavilions. I think it’s great that they can use this garden as a meeting place for their community!


(Note: there is a bigger garden very close to this one but that is not free. It’s called Yi garden (怡园) and the ticket is 40 RMB. I have never been, but according to a friend it’s not worth it).


From Qu garden you can walk around the alleys, which are basically Suzhou’s version of Beijing’s hutongs. If you peek through the open doors you will see that many entrances have a long corridor leading to several apartments. If it’s sunny you will also probably see people eating outside or playing cards. And loads of hanging clothes, of course.


After lunch we walked towards the Beisi Pagoda (北寺塔). It is very close to where C.’s parents live but I have never been there. This time it couldn’t be, either, as they close at 3 pm and we couldn’t get in. Isn’t 3 pm kind of early to close a tourist attraction?


For dinner we went to my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Suzhou. I used to live very close to it but now I’m further away so I can’t go during lunch break.


Surging Waves pavilion (沧浪亭). Address: 人民路44号, in front of the Temple of Confucious. Price: 15 RMB.


On Sunday it rained. Boooh! But we still had to do something, so we went to the Surging Waves pavilion. It is one of the classical gardens that are listed by Unesco in Suzhou. It’s my favourite of the famous gardens because it’s the cheapest one. It’s quite big and has a decent sized rock mountain in the middle, many pavilions, bamboo gardens and a covered corridor going all around the place.


After lunch in a Lanzhou noodles place whose boss was kind enough to prepare vegetarian dishes, we went to have a foot massage as my workmates had never tried one. The masseurs had a great time making fun of the 3 foreigners plus the Chinese who also looks foreigner.


Shantang Street (山塘街). Subway line 2 has a stop right there, called Shantang St. Price: free!


This is the other famous old street in Suzhou. Very revamped (it even has a Starbucks and a Family Mart with their facades imitating the traditional wooden doors) but still very pretty at night, when they turn on all the red lanterns. First time visitors always love it. If you want to get some souvenir, I suggest you have your face done in a paper cut, it’s quite unique. My workmates did it and the paper cut master had a hard time getting their foreign faces right. He said they used to charge more for foreigners, until a Chinese speaking laowai protested. But it is true that in the time it took him to do my friends, the other master did 4 or 5 Chinese people.

这是苏州另一条著名的老街,还进行了翻新(它甚至有一个星巴克和一个家庭用品超市,它们的门面都是模仿的传统的木门),晚上所有的红灯笼都点亮时,这里非常漂亮。第一次来这里参观的游客总是很喜欢这里。如果你想得到一些纪念品,我建议你去买一张按照你的脸做成的剪纸,这是相当独特的。我的同事们都这么做了,剪纸师傅费了好大劲才把他们的外国面孔弄对。他说他们过去对外国人收取更高的费用,直到一个会说中文的老外提出了抗议。但事实是, 他帮我朋友做一个用的时间,另一位师傅可以帮四五个中国人做完。

Even though we didn’t visit any of the super famous sights, my friends were very happy with their Suzhou visit. You should check these places out if you haven’t been!





I have been living in Suzhou for over 4 years now, but there are still some places that I haven’t been to. For example, I haven’t been to all of the famous Suzhou gardens, only to some of them (all of them look similar, right?). I haven’t been to Baker & Spice or Kamal’s Indian restaurant either. I could go on and on. Seriously, I don’t know what I do with my weekends. But I am trying to change!


A few days ago we had a long weekend for the Mid-Autumn festival. It was cloudy and rainy because there was a typhoon in Fujian, but I managed to move both our asses from the sofa and we went to visit one of those parts of Suzhou that we had never been before:


Keep walking and you will reach a very nice park called 东园 Dongyuan, which simply means East Park, as it’s on the east side of Suzhou’s old town. There are motor boats and fishing rods to rent, dozens of cats that live there, a rose garden, the garden of some old official, a pond full of lotus… and a small amusement park!


I wanted to ride in the carousel but I arrived one minute after they closed! Grrr! Well, one more reason to go back!


I really enjoyed this walk, so I will definitely come back to this park!





It’s that time of the year again! The beginning of summer means the rainy season is here. It has been raining a lot the last couple of weeks and there were also several thunderstorms. In Chinese these days are called 梅雨季 (plum rain season) and they are a synonym of hot and humid weather. Yikes! My previous apartment was in the second floor and I would even get mold on the walls and leather chairs.


The best part about rainy days in China is that the air gets noticeably cleaner. As you know, we have a big problem with pollution here. Suzhou rarely gets to airpocalypse levels, but usually the PM2.5 index is between 100 and 150, and that is not good. The sky is not “true blue”, but a greyish shade of blue. But in the last days I even saw pink colored clouds when walking Nico at 7 pm. Nice!


Usually it always rains on the weekend, but this morning it was sunny, the air was clean and the ground was more or less dry. We took Nico to the lake and I brought my camera. It got cloudy when we got there but it didn’t rain. Nico wanted to get in the water but she’s a coward! She only swims where there are stairs leading to the water and she can see it’s not too deep.


It was nice to be able to go out today. I hope you enjoyed your Sunday too!