SUZHOU

Suzhou has canals, gardens, a great silk tradition...enough interesting things to deserve a visit. Some travel books even refer to it as the "Venice of the East". I've already found the term "Venice of the North" used for Amsterdam, Bruges, Copenhagen, Saint Petersburg and possibly others, and I bet other towns are dubbed "Venice of the South" and "Venice of the West" - and thank goodness there are only 4 cardinal points . These nicknames aim at making towns appealing, but have no ground. Suzhou has canals and some of them are nice with their humpbacked bridges, true, but Suzhou is also a 5-million-people town with wide and bustling boulevards and a booming economy. It's not ugly, for heaven's sake, but it doesn't look like Venice in the least.

The Silk Museum is enjoyable: it details the history of Suzhou's silk industry, whose secrets have been successfully hidden to the outer world for more than 3000 years. The Silk Road, shown in this basrelief:

was the way (in fact there were many, both on earth and by sea) through which the silk was made available to the west countries since the times of the Roman Empire.

Canals are ubiquitous in the centre:

they are nice to see but the water is not particularly clear, to say it gently - that's one thing which makes Suzhou look like Venice . I manage to visit a couple of gardens: the Humble Administrator Garden:

and the Master of the Nets Garden:

The former is large and probably the most famous in Suzhou. The latter is small but extraordinarily well-balanced. Thanks to ingenious techniques like this:

it conveys the illusion of a much larger space.
Chinese gardens differ greatly from our gardens: they are made from several different elements such as rocks, water, wooden pavilions, flowers and trees. »At rush hour I have the chance to see the heavy traffic in the streets:

I go back to the train station and I can see, in the station square, a gang at work. A lot of people gather around them as they continue to work with impressive skills and speed. A small scraper is placing water pipes vertically and workers help by hand-moving the drill. It seems to me that the "audience" is a spur for the gang to work harder and, likewise, the skills and the care of the workers attract more and more onlookers, in a virtuous cycle whose underlying asset is work. That's interesting. Not something you could see nowadays where I live.