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Ancient Suzhou in the Rain

rain 73 °F

Although the wind quintet tour is over and, after a final farewell breakfast, our colleagues returned home to the US, Dave, Sue, and Pearl are still rambling through China for two more days before having to return home for Lyric and CSO obligations.

As usual, we like to take advantage of public transportation—every subway system in the world works generally the same way, the challenge lies in purchasing the correct ticket and operating the entry gate so the doors don’t unexpectedly slice you in half while you quickly scoot through.

Sue and Pearl emerging from the subway in Suzhou

Since Dave and Sue are still recovering from the whirlwind quintet tour, and the weather was mostly rainy today, we decided to keep our wandering to a minimum with a walk up ancient Pingjiang Road toward the the Humble Administrator’s Garden. (An oxymoron?)

Today was the first day of school for all children in China and family vacations have ended, so even though we are exploring a touristy area, the crowds are very manageable. (Wondering what the line at Tiananmen looks like today...) Our family observed a touching moment as a young boy was dropped off at school in his cute little uniform of navy pants and crisp, white shirt. He walked bravely into the schoolyard alone, and then called back to his mom for one final kiss.

The 2,500 year old city of Suzhou is known as the “Venice of the Orient” with canals running throughout the city in a double grid pattern with the ancient roads, and today’s walk put us squarely in the center of this beautiful area with picturesque bridges, old tea houses, and lush greenery. A perfect blending of decrepit yet gorgeous.


1000-year-old Si Po Bridge named after a temple located on the west side of the bridge from the Tang Dynasty.

Although our goal was the Humble Administrator’s Garden, Mother Nature decided to dump buckets of rain on us right before purchasing tickets, so we skipped the garden ramble in our squishy shoes, and instead rode a canal boat back toward the subway station.


Our sweet gondolier conversed with Sue—we learned that his parents taught him to sing Suzhou folk songs and how to play a kind of flute from Suzhou. He learned that we were also musicians, and then treated us to a beautiful song as he slowly rowed us down the canal in the rain.

After a quick change into dry clothes (including dry undies for Dave since he sat in a puddle), Dave and Sue headed back over to the concert hall to practice and teach a lesson. Seeing our quintet posters still hanging in the grand hall made us feel a bit lonely for Jenn, Keith, and Will.

After a good long practice session getting us back into the opera/orchestra frame of mind, we were starving. Over the past week and a half we have fully embraced Chinese cuisine—not letting a bun, dumpling, noodle, or unknown meat go untouched. But tonight we were in the mood for something slightly different, so Dave found a fantastic Korean barbecue restaurant just a mile away. The perfect antidote to reset our tastebuds.

Posted by skwclar 15:38 Archived in China

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