Favorite Travels: Feeling the Love in Suzhou

This post is part of a series of favorite travels around the world. Read other entries about Alaska, and Tahiti.

When one of history’s very first travel writers, Marco Polo visited Suzhou, China in 1276, he labeled it “Venice of the East.”

With lazy waterway canals and over 200 opulent gardens, Suzhou shares Venice’s notable charms. However, unlike the European counterpart, which has taken on a reputation (unfair, in my opinion) for sinking (and stinking), Suzhou is certainly not in decline. On the contrary, it’s thriving due to its status as a world manufacturing capitol for silk and western style poofy white wedding dresses.

Chances are that dress you, your friend, or wife wore down the aisle was conceived, stitched, and bedazzled in Suzhou. One section of town boasts 700 wedding dress shops! How on earth does a bride choose the “one”?

I took a day trip to Suzhou last November (a very auspicious time for Chinese weddings it turns out) to view gardens and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Maybe I should have been more interested in those historical aspects of the city. I mean those things were interesting, but I quickly got distracted.

On a primal level, I was just unexpectedly swept away by all the love.

Who cares about the historic city gate? Instead, I asked my guide if we could browse canals on Shantang Street so I could admire all the pretty couples.

Lovers posed everywhere for dramatic and wistful portraits with scenic canals and weeping willows in the backdrop.

I was completely entranced, and I believe that Suzhou must give places like Vegas, Niagara Falls, and Paris a run for its money when it comes to all those pheromones.

In any case, I wish I could do my engagement photos all over again and wear a silk qipao traditional dress this time…

Or pose with these guys in the background…

Or stand on top this crane mosaic symbolic of longevity…

Or peek out from one of the windows of the Tiger Hill Pagoda…

What can I say? Who can resist all that love in the air in Suzhou?

Does it ever happen to you when you travel? Do you get distracted from your main intention and focus on something else entirely?


16 thoughts on “Favorite Travels: Feeling the Love in Suzhou

  1. Hi Mary,
    Wow, the places you have been!
    With these pictures it looks you have been traveling back in time, great!
    I guess the wonderful thing about traveling are the moments you actually get distracted. Not to stick too much to your original plan and schedule but just let things happen..

    • maryrichardson

      Thanks! Suzhou does look lovely, doesn’t it? I think you’re right the best moments are the ones when we just let things happen…

  2. Everything about this post and this place just radiates romanticism, sweetness, and above all hope! I would have been swept away by all that love too. As it is, I’m utterly entraced by the post and am off to read up more about this magic place!

  3. Does that mean that Miss Middleton (soon Mrs Williams) will be wearing a wedding dress made in this entrancing region?

    What a fab post. Here’s to you, too, on your ’40-1′ birthday tomorrow! 🙂

    Greetings from London.

  4. Thanks to your lovely pictures I got to feel the romance of the place. You could renew your vows or do something akin to that in the same place and wear those traditional silk dresses. I’m sighing just thinking about it. 🙂

  5. winxrocker

    Venice always stinks, and I can never help wondering why when I’m there!
    National Geographic did an article on Suzhou a long long time back, and the next month I was on a plane there. When I landed at the airport, the first thing I saw were happy couples holding hands and walking out of the terminal.
    It was an amazing trip there, and I loved the Tiger Hill Pagoda! Did you go right up to the top?

  6. The Suzhou is a city in Jiangsu province. It is famous for its beautiful gardens and traditional waterside architecture with quaint atmosphere for travelers. The Lingering Garden, Tarrying Garden, Ding Hui Temple, North Temple Pagoda are good places to see.

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