Ashley / China / Travel

Escape From Chengdu – Running in Suzhou

Well, due to the devastating floods in Bangkok, my 7 day October holiday vacation to Chengdu was extended (and then extended again) to a 17 day holiday. The second extension ran right into Phil’s plans to run with the Chengdu Panda Hash House Harrier’s weekend away visit to Suzhou.

Phil upon learning that he was stuck with me for another week

Four hours before my flight back to Bangkok I found out school was cancelled – again – and was able to not only change my flight, but repack and book a flight to Wuxi and join Phil and the other pandas for the run.

Due to its proximity to Shanghai, Suzhou doesn’t have a airport. To visit one must fly into Shanghai, or the cheaper option to the not-so-beautiful industrial center of Wuxi.

Wuxi doesn’t offer much for your average traveler to get excited about. Even the ever positive wikitravel says the only things to see there are a lake, a canal, a garden and a buddha. The one thing to do? Get a massage.

Capitalizing on our newly granted weekend together we took the speed train from Wuxi to Shanghai-Hongqiao railway station. A quick plug for Hongqiao. The efficiency and order of this transportation hub is other-worldly, if not other-China-ly. We met up with or old friends Cassandra and Taylor (who are hosting Thanksgiving next week, watch this space), lapped up the luxury of the French Concession and had a great meal at Mr. Willis.

But this is a post about Suzhou, so let me get to the point…

Suzhou, the “Venice of the East” is built around a series of canals. We didn’t spend much time seeing the many things that were recommended in this 48 hours in Suzhou article. Instead we spent our time in the “Technology Development Zone” also known as part of town where China puts all the foreigners. This area of town is home to our hosts, the Suzhou Hash House Harriers. We sampled bars and local Western fare and even a little bit of that famous Shanghainese “brown and sweet” cuisine.

Saturday the hash dragged us out to one of the only non-flat areas to the terrain, Qionglong mountain. Home to the author of the “Art of War,” Sun Tzu, there were blue skies, temples, and more than one inclines. It was beautiful. I however, was fearful of what these Suzhou hares would put us through so I did not bring any sort camera on the run.

But we were there for canals (and beer)! And canals (and beer) we got on Sunday on a walk/run through the old part of town. Maybe next time we go to Suzhou we’ll see a bit more if it. Till then, on on!

Oh, and, just so you’re in the loop, school started last Tuesday. But more on that later.


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