The Water Towns

We had avoided many destinations in China during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).  We had heard and seen the throngs of people who travel during that time.  This year, being perhaps our last in this big country, we have quite a few cities left on our list.  So we took a chance and got lucky.

Suzhou is a city in Jiangsu Province, just west of Shanghai.  It is in the Yangtze River Delta, which lends itself to beautiful views on many canals and ponds.  It has more than two thousand years of history and is sometimes called the Venice of China or Venice of the East.  The meticulous gardens are, together, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with those in the other water towns along the canals.

It was a quick trip down to Shanghai, then a full day along the canals, and a trip back to the tundra the next day.  On our water town excursion, we spent a rainy morning and midday in Suzhou, then went on to an overcast Tongli and, finally, some sunshine in Zhouzhuang.  It is a touristy area, yes, but lovely, just like all the pictures I’ve admired for so long.  And, because it was the weekend before the Chinese New Year, perhaps many other travelers were with their families.  I hope they had a lovely time because we certainly did.

Enjoy some of our views in the water towns.

Yes. Please.

There were quite a few authentic and traditional Chinese dishes we had to try when we went to Xi’an.  We did our very best to eat our way up and through the Muslim Quarter.  Some things, we had to try more than once or twice, just to give it a fair shake.

Rou jia mo is like a Chinese hamburger on a flatbread-type bun.  Every one of the 4 I tried (ha!) was fantastic, and the spicy vegetarian version (cai jia mo) was fantastic too.  Biang biang mian is a carbohydrate dream – wide, thick, long hand-pulled noodles in a sauce of varying spiciness.  Yang rou chuanr is a lamb skewer and at each stall, there are different spices available for you to add your own.  Cumin is a regular favorite.  There were sweet rice cakes, nutty candy, fried little potatoes, noodles, fruits and vegetables, drinks, nuts, breads and so much more.  Enjoy!