This really is quite a lovely city. Even nearly 800 years later, it’s easy to see why Marco Polo referred to Suzhou as the most beautiful city on Earth. The canals, trees, bridges and elegant architecture make it a very pleasant place overall. It’s sort of mind-blowing to realize that Suzhou has been here for about 2500 years. I’m sure that among the millions of people who live here now, there are some who are descendants of the original inhabitants of the city.

Today, we strolled along the canals until we reached the “Humble Administrator’s Garden.” The garden, although crawling with tourists, was still a soothing spot. It’s not too humble though, covering about five hectares, with large ponds, pagodas, bamboo groves, pavilions and bridges.

After spending an hour or two in the garden, we had lunch at a little restaurant built on a bridge over one of the canals. Then we walked a few more blocks to see a large pagoda in the north end of the city.

We returned to the hostel on one of the main streets, and then through an enormous outdoor shopping complex, only slightly less impressive than Shanghai’s East Nanjing Road. The contrast of these bustling, cosmopolitan urban spaces to the peace and reflection of the quiet canal lanes and gardens was astounding.

I’m presenting the photos in a slightly different way today. The square thumbnails aren’t proportional, but WordPress makes this gallery automatically, and that saves me a ton of time. I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, if you know what I mean.