April 23, we boarded the bullet
for a 30-minute ride to Suzhou
at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. The ride was smooth and comfortable,
similar to the TGV in France, but without any refreshment services. No
complaints, however, since the ride was so short and we’d had a big buffet
breakfast in the hotel in Shanghai.
Suzhou touts itself as the Venice of China because of its canals,
especially the Grand Canal, the longest man-made waterway in the world.
Marco Polo Bridge and the Town
From the train, we took a bus to the old part of town and the
. I stopped to get some pictures of the bridge
that Marco Polo crossed and wrote about. The bridge led to an old
that was uniquely constructed to trap enemies inside a small
so that defenders could shoot down at them and slaughter them
in small batches to prevent them from entering the main entrance to the
But before we leave for our cruise down the canal, take another look at
the Marco Polo Bridge
from a different angle and this panorama of the bridge
out, with Dean in the foreground.
Down Grand Canal
Originally built 2000 years ago to ship silk from the south to the emperor
in the north, the Grand Canal (about 1200 miles long) claimed about
3,000,000 lives of the workers who built it over more than 100 years.
Next, we boarded a canal
for a cruise through the Grand Canal and a side canal. As we putt-putted
by, people waved and took pictures of us while we took pictures of them.
We got to see a glimpse of the inhabitants’ private lives. At one point,
we even came upon a wedding
After our canal cruise, our bus dropped us off at a silk factory where we
learned how the Chinese make silk from cocoon to spooled
After dinner, a bus took us to a beautifully lit complex with different
performances in each small room. The first performance featured two men
in a short play. Another
featured some music and
then on to a lovely dance
performance. We finished with a solo performance on a horizontal
At around 9:30, we headed to our hotel, the Castle
, where we spent the night. The next morning, we enjoyed
another sumptuous breakfast buffet before boarding a bus and riding back