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2017 Jun by Michael Novins
June 2017 -- I made a day trip by train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Suzhou Railway Station and then Suzhou Rail Transit to Binhe Lu Station since it was the nearest station to the Suzhou Fengqiao Scenery Spot, part of the Grand Canal of China UNESCO World Heritage SIte. I also visited the Lingering Garden and the Humble Administrator's Garden, two of the four gardens initially inscribed under the Classical Gardens of Suzhou UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the best site was the plate of xiaolongxia (spicy crayfish), only available during the summer season and perhaps the most flavorful dish I've ever eaten. |
2011 Apr by Peter Kuiper
After a two hour flight from Guangzhou (10.10 – 12.15 with China Southern Airlines) we arrived at Nanking’s / Nanjing’s Airport “Lukou”.
We took a taxi to the hotel. A fantastic new highway connects the airport with the city. Before entering the city we passed on the left side of the street a huge Stalinist style building topped by a massif dome. It looked like the local headquarters of the communist party. Later at home I tried to find out what kind of building it was, but I did not find any pictures or information about it in the internet.
After driving under an incredible cluster of viaducts we drove towards Nanjing’s skyline, topped by the seventh highest building in the world; the 381 m high (450m with the antenna) “Greenland Square Zifeng Tower” with the InterContinental Hotel between the 47th and 88th floor.
We got a room in the 51st floor, room 5118, for €49 per night, with an amazing view on the Xuan Sea Park. Even twenty story apartment buildings looked small out of this perspective. The room had wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows plus power curtains. The walls of the bathroom were made of glass. You could relax in the bathtub and watch TV at the same time.
The hotel was conveniently located near the Gulou Subway Station. The brand new subway brought us to the Sanshan Jie Station, near the main entertainment district of the city. Here you can see the 1500 year old Confucius Temple and some rebuild and newly constructed Ming Style buildings. The whole atmosphere of this area is a bit kitschy, but the rest of the downtown area was so internationally modern, that at least here you had the feeling to be in China. In the river there were little Chinese dragon boats for rent. Nearby, there were some shopping streets in traditional style with hundreds of little shops. In one little street there must have been more than fifty shoe shops. Of course Christian had to add two pairs, one multicolored one and one brown pair with yellow shoelaces, to his already enormous collection.
In a Chinese style shopping center we ordered noodles. The food was absolutely terrible; we had to leave the place after one bite. I am sure that the Chinese cuisine is quite good, but it is not easy to order the right thing.
After dark, our 88 story hotel was covered with blue lights. For a while I went swimming in the exclusive hotel spa, but the water seemed a bit cold for me. So we enjoyed the luxury of our hotel room and the million lights of the city.
A push on one of the buttons next to my bed and slowly the curtains opened and showed us another sunny day. After breakfast at the McDonalds opposite the hotel, ( The company only gives staff a 50% discount on food and beverage in Europe, eating in the InterContinental Hotel all the time would be too expensive.), we took a taxi to the Zijin Shan Park, a forested area near town with a lot of interesting sights.
We were two flight hours north of subtropical Guangzhou and springtime only just started here. Some bushes were green, but most of the trees were still virtually bare. An exception was the cherry trees; they were in full bloom. It was amazing to see how enthusiastic the people were about this. Lodes of people came to see the cherry blossoms, armed with pick nick baskets and heavy cameras.
We started our tour through the park at the Sun Yatsen Mausoleum. Dr. Sun is seen as the father of modern China and died 1925. The construction of the large scale site started 1926. After passing through a Ming-style marble gate with a blue tiled roof you have to climb 392 steps to get to the actual mausoleum. Christian was not amused about so much action, his heart couldn’t cope and as a result we only saw the main building from down below. Now I regret this very much.
A tourist bus train transported us to another part of the park. After finishing an instant noodle soup, common fare in gourmet China, we visited the grave of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang from the 14th century. This is a massive stone fortress with a Chinese gate style building on top. Its walls are red and the curly roofs are covered with orange colored tiles. Beautiful! Its extensive gardens are surrounded by high walls. Also here there were some beautifully blooming cherry trees.
Now we got to an area of the park where the garden paths were flanked by immense stone statues: lions, camels, elephants and horses. This lane led to another palace. Bad enough we were running out of time and had to get back to the city to see the famous city walls. We took the chair lift to the top of the 448m high Zijin Shan, made some pictures from the hazy city below and walked down the steps on the other side.
Back in town we took a taxi to another famous tourist sight: the Jiming Temple right next to the city walls. This temple consisted of several prayer halls, builds closely together and connected by steep stairways. All the buildings had curly roofs and the streets below were lined with cherry trees and absolutely packed with photographing people.
We walked through the maze of temples and climbed the city wall. From here we had a fantastic view on the nearby lake and the skyline behind it: the enormous gleaming white tunnel-like structure was the brand new Main Railway Station from where we would take a high speed train to Suzhou the next day.
I regret so much that we didn’t have the time to walk over the Chinese white marble bridges to get to the little islands in the lake. A day and a half is definitively too short for a beautiful city like Nanjing.
We were just in time at the street again, to catch the last sunrays on the cherry blossoms. The sidewalks were packed with people and everybody was absolutely thrilled by the overhead beauty. Children were held up high between the trees to make unforgettable pictures.
We took a taxi to the Hanzhong Lu Street to enjoy the neon lights and the apartment stores and shopping centers. What a luxury! Nanjing is beautiful!
I was glad to get back to the hotel now. I didn’t feel well and overnight I started to get really sick. This was the prize I had to pay for my long swim in the cold water of the artificial lagoon in the gardens of the InterContinental Shenzhen. Now I wish I had only used their heated inside pool!
My night in our 51st floor luxury room was not too good. I spend more time on the way back and forth from the bathroom as in bed. There was something wrong with my bladder and I felt awful. The next morning I was really sick, but we had to go on. The concierge had gotten train tickets for us and a new luxury hotel was waiting for us in Suzhou.
We took a taxi to Nanjing’s Main Station across the lake from the hotel; it had just opened its gates. I have never seen such an enormous station building. And everything was perfectly organized. The oversized screen on the rear wall showed all arrivals and departures in Chinese; the times, train numbers and platforms were shown in Latin. So it was easy to figure out what train was ours. Our ticket consisted out of a solid credit card sized paper ticket with an electronic code. To get to our platform we had to pass several electronic gates, which only opened minutes before the departure of the train. In this way, it was virtually impossible to end up in a wrong train.
The 218km trip in China’s bullet train took only one hour and two minutes, with a speed of over 330km.
Too bad, that it is not allowed to photograph stations or airports in China. Many of them would deserve lots of pictures. Suzhou’s Main Station was impressive, but a bit confusing. It took us some time to figure out the exit. Once more we needed our electronic tickets to be able to pass the last gate.
We had learned our lesson in Shenzhen and as always had the concierge of our last hotel write down in Chinese the name of the next one. This didn’t help us in Suzhou though, as the hotel was so brand new, that nobody seemed to have heard about it. Our friendly female taxi driver made a few calls with her taxi operator, to no avail. Now we gave her the telephone number from the InterContinental and so somebody from the hotel could guide her to our destination.
The hotel was part of a futuristic area of town on the side of an enormous lake. The old center of Suzhou was miles away from here.
The 24 story hotel tower stood on its own surrounded by empty highways, a canal and an enormous designer style shopping center. That was good for Christian, because I was happy to be able to go to bed; I was really sick now. Christian made a tour through the neighborhood and I fell asleep right away.
We had a beautiful room again, nr 1785. The wonderful bathroom could be opened from two sides and so it formed an integral part of the room. Of course the room had two queen size beds again. Next to the wall-to-wall window we had a large round table with two chairs.
Christian had found a supermarket and a “German Bakery Store”. After eating I felt a bit better and we took a taxi to the center of town, about 20km away. We crossed a bridge and walked through a pedestrian area to some temples. These were nice, but the surrounding buildings seemed too new. The Chinese don’t like old stuff very much. They prefer to tear down old buildings first and then rebuild them, “new antiques” are a “in”.
We had to go back to the hotel now. I felt too weak to walk around any longer. I had fever and was coughing the lungs out of my body.
Back in the hotel I asked the concierge for a pharmacy. He didn’t know the word. I wrote it down and he looked it up in the computer. Now he understood my question, but the answer didn’t seem easy. China doesn’t seem to have pharmacies. After some discussion with a colleague he wrote us down an address in Chinese. We took a taxi and expected to be driven to a pharmacy, but we got to a little building behind a parking lot, surrounded by new twenty story high apartment blocks. It seemed to be a small health center. Some medical staff was walking around. They found an English speaking nurse for me. She explained me that they could not give me any medicine without a prescription and since there was no doctor available, it would be better for me to go to a hospital. She explained the directions to the taxi driver. It’s “not far” she told us.
Not far were at least another four kilometers. We got to a hospital in the middle of a new residential area with ultra-modern twenty story glass-and-steel apartment buildings. Along the driveway, through the fast immaculate front garden, were pictures with the curriculum vitae of the medical staff. The reception area looked like a lobby of a big hotel. At the desk one of the girls could speak English well. I had to tell my problem, show my passport and pay a fee of about €3,50. Just minutes later I was presented a Chinese health card. I was in the system now. I was send to an empty waiting area. I did wait some time, but since nothing happened I vertured out into the opposite corridor and found a doctor in his office. This guy could speak English quite well. I assumed that he had studied in the US, but he told me that he just visited San Francisco once for an international meeting. The doctor took his time, examened me and wrote me down a list of six different medicines to swallow, inhale or rubb onto my chest. At the pharmacy next to the reception area they delivered it to me within minutes.
This evening I had to stay in bed. Christian saw to it that I took all the medicines in time and did my inhalations. I must say that things did get better soon.
The next day I felt strong enough to do some sightseeing. We took a taxi to the old town again and visited some of Suzhou\\\'s famous gardens. They were nice, but had a bit too much of stone to my taste. From the fishermans garden to the garden of politics we took a riksha. That was fun and we saw a lot of this relaxed city.
After returning to the hotel we strolled through the shopping center next door. How do all these shops survive? In the huge halls, stores with all the luxery brands were lined up, but there was hardly a custumer in sight. We walked through a super exclusive supermarket with floors out of black marble and a cathedral high ceiling. It was just amazing to see what they were selling there: All the fruits and vegetables from around the world, hundreds of cheeses, any brand articles from anywhere! And who the hell needs fresh milk flown in from France, the Netherlands or New Zealand?
The next morning we took the high speed train (top speed 331km) to Shanghai. |
2006 Dec by Veikko Huhtala*
Nanjing is capital of Jiangsu. My first visit there was 1986 when I flew from Beijing.|
This last time Oili and me traveled by train.
Nanjing is a big city, about 8 million inhabitants, two times more than in Finland!
Today there are very many cars which are polluting the air. On my first visit there was much more bicycles than cars. Traffic jams are normal on the streets today.
Some peoples like these big cities, but I do'nt.
I have lived half of my life in small village with less than 100 people. That is why big cities are looking a little bit crazy for my eyes.
Our next destination was Shanghai, where population was about 20 millions!!
1982 Oct by Jorge Sanchez
I stayed for a few hours in Nanjing, Jiangsu capital, while travelling through the Yangtze River form Wuhan to Shanghai, when the boat made a stop to load and unload cargo. But one week later I would spend a full day and night in Suzhou, another city belonging to Jiangsu.|
I knew that Suzhou was a millenary city, but I did not expect to be populated by several millions Chinese, like Madrid, our Spanish capital.
I traveled to Suzhou from Shanghai, by train. With me came a very nice Chinese man that I had known in the boat journey from Wuhan to Shanghai and he acted as my improvised guide. He was very noble man and only wanted to buy me Touristic Yuan (in those times tourists would receive in the bank tourists notes, written in Chinese and English, and with them my friend, whose name was very hard to reproduce but I called him Fu Manchu, just for simplification, could acquire foreign products.
In Suzhou my friend Fu Manchu showed me pagodas, temples with hundreds Buddhists statues, nice parks, but among all we saw canals, streets with canals and small boats crossing them. That is why Suzhou is called the Chinese Venice and, in fact, Suzhou is officially a sister city of Venice.
I said good bye to my friend Fu Manchu and bought a Chinese train ticket to Beijing (foreigners paid more).
............................... In 2016 I traveled again to Nanjing and this is what I wrote about muy visit: I had already been in Nanjing in the past. I had seen the famous bridge over the Yangtze river while traveling by boat from Wuhan to Shanghai, and regretted not to have walked over it. So the opportunity came to me many years later. I had arrived to Nanjing at about 3 AM, went to the Internet Cafe just next door to the railway station and spend there 4 hours, until dawn, then I took a bus to the beginning of the bridge and started to walk, round trip, which took me about 3 hours. I stopped in every plaque, in every statue to take pictures, but soon realized that many of the plaques they are repeated. They explained the history of the bridge, the first across the Yangtze river in Nanjing and the first bridge to be built entirely by chinese technology, without foreign help. It was indeed a great work of ingenierie and chinese feel very proud of it. From the bridge I had splendid views over the city, hills and pagodas, and also over the many ships that continuously passed by. In some parts I saw soldiers taken care of the bridge. Back in the railway station I visited other places in Nanjing, like some bixies, or stone sculptures that are like a symbol of Nanjing and are in fact a lion like mythological chinese animal used un funerals, until the evening, when I would catch another train to Fujian province to visit the famous UNESCO tulou houses. I used to travel in the evening and to visit during the days, in order to save money and to gain time.