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?