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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Aug 30, 2010

Suzhou part one

The Family got the opportunity to be all together in Suzhou China for a couple of weeks. Nathan has been visiting Suzhou since we lived in the States, so it was great to finally be able to see all the places I have only heard about.

A little history on the region.
Located in the Jiangsu province, Suzhou is known for its gardens and canals.
Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Suzhou has been an important center for China's silk industry. The city is part of the Yangtze River Delta region.
It is sometimes known as the Venice of the East or the Venice of China, as a result of the canals.

This was our visit to Panmen. One of the main attractions is the gate, it is the only well preserved water-and-land city gate in the world now. It is believed to be over 2000 years old.

One of the highlights for me was being able to climb the Pagoda. The Ruiguang Pagoda was built in 241 originally 13 storeys tall. In 1100 B.C it went into disrepair and the man who funded the reconstruction made it only seven. The kids kept wanting to go higher and higher, I started to get nervous around the 4th level. The stairs were narrow and there was only one set, so if any one was coming up or down you had to make way for them. We were surprised at the graffiti scratched on the walls. I imagine in the States a plastic barrier would be built to keep that from happening. The ledge was not that high when we walked outside, in the States artificial railing would be in place to make up for this. In China I find myself approaching ancient structures charmed by them being in their original construction but with some trepidation. I was a little disappointed and a little relieved when we discovered that at the upper levels you were not allowed to walk outside.

Queenie ( her English name) works with Nathan and was very kind and helpful to us. She accompanied us to Pan Men it was her first time there as well. She bought the kids these souvenirs.

We were given a boat ride. The man was singing as we went. Queenie said part of what he was singing was simply about rowing the boat.

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