Suzhou Garden Museums, Night Water Towns ♥

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The long weekend calls for an update, right? 😊 Let's go on from where we left off: Suzhou, the beautiful water town that I am still dreaming of from time to time. (The man knows to convince me, he just have to tell me somewhere is like the Suzhou of XX). This post will bring you through the historic and classical garden museums in Suzhou. The gardens are a major highlight here in this quaint town and are certainly not 'just gardens'. The architectural meanings behind these gardens are incredibly refined and interesting.



Right from where we left off, you can reach Couple's Retreat Garden (耦园) easily from Pingjiang Street. By location, it is most convenient to start off here. Its entrance is pretty secluded and quiet, given that the long stretch leading up to it was lined by residential homes and the waterway.

Built in the early Qing dynasty, the Couple's Retreat Garden is divided into eastern and western parts in the compound (thus giving rise to its name "Couple's Retreat"). The eastern part of the compound is made of mostly 'study rooms', furnished with the four treasure items always seen in study rooms: brush, ink, paper and ink stone.


Every detail in the study room is specially choreographed: even the number of sides of the lamp, the framing of windows, and the scenery outside the window.


Looking at the grandeur of the gardens now, nobody could have guessed that the Couple's Retreat Garden has fallen into ruins and got partially destroyed by fire before. 


A couple picture in Couple's Retreat :)
#CheesyAttack

Photos I take of him vs Photos he takes of me
 Every nook and cranny here makes for really good photography opportunities!


The next garden: Lion's Grove Garden 狮子林园! This entire place is certainly a tourist's cultural playground! They are prominently noticeable for their labyrinthine of grotto rocks (假山) of all kinds of shapes throughout the whole garden. One of the grotto rocks is shaped like a lion, and hence the name of the grove garden. Unlike the Couple's Retreat Garden, the Lion's Grove Garden was built as a temple garden and not a privately owned garden.

The core of these gardens lie not only in the grotto rocks, but also the water and ponds that accompany them. In the middle of the garden, there is a huge pond, with a few pavilions scattered around. 


Running about excitedly around the gardens to explore every corner.




There's something different at every turn, which makes the Lion's Grove Garden really interesting to explore and look around. Time passes really quickly when we are in here too!




There is even a 'boathouse' in the middle but it never moves. It is actually just shaped like a boat but it is rooted to the ground.


There are many fables related to Lion Grove Garden which we eavesdropped from the tour guides roaming around the garden, which deeply enriched our time there. If there were no explanation, it would seemed like a simple garden but it certainly is not.


And... that's it for our gardens exploration! There are actually many more that comprise Suzhou's major gardens, but I think that's more than enough for one day.

 
  
Off to find food, super hungry... and we found

THE BEST DUMPLINGS I EVER HAD.

Yes, even up till now, I haven't had anything that tops this. I eat dumplings / gyozas very frequently and certainly this is still the very very best. Do not miss this when you are in Suzhou, it is worth travelling down for. The location is very convenient too, right outside the Humble Administrator's Garden, so you should not face any problem roping this place into your itinerary.

陈扬蟹黄汤包馆
Chen Yang Crab Meat Dumplings House




*Cries tears of happiness* I swear I didn't want to share any of these. It is super tasty, juicy and fresh-tasting, and the skin of each dumpling is neither too thick nor too thin. Every single one of them is made to perfection and never broke. All the dumplings were made in view of all the visitors, as the chefs dedicatedly kneaded, wrapped and steamed them all. I would deeply contemplate to go back to Suzhou just to eat these.


As compared, I forgot what this was.
I think it was beef glass noodles.

  
Heaven of crab dumplings.
If I could choose my last meal, this would be one of my top choices.


We went back to Suzhou Railway Train Station to buy tickets for tomorrow's trip to Wuxi and Hangzhou. I really dislike railway stations in China because of the rowdiness and the mix of characters there, but at the same time, it gives me the rare skip of a heartbeat of travelling.


We were greeted by the loveliest sunset right outside the station, and we made our way to Shan Tang district where we could catch a glimpse of what water towns at night would look like.


Limitlessly charming. The soft golden glow from the bridges and shops cast a really beautiful soft glow on the river, and I was squealing internally in excitement (or maybe, I was really squealing IRL). It was such a pretty sight!


It is no surprise why the beautiful realism / impressionist paintings came from Suzhou. Why, this looked like it was straight out from a watercolor piece.


In reality, the streets were really bustling with people.


In certain streets, it looked like this. The tour groups were in swarms, but if you walked ahead of them into the smaller streets, you can resume inner peace and serenity again.


Slightly less crowded, but you can explore further and deeper.

 

It was really cold in Suzhou at night even though it was supposed to be early summer in May, so I had to steal the jacket from my boyfriend. The coldest temperatures can dip to 16 degrees! 


Traditional shadow performances can be seen in the streets.


Some of the shops are really quaint and cozy for souvenir shopping. From magnets to quirky T-shirts, you can shop for all your friends and family here.


Dark and crowded, but not too noisy.


My heart is full for Suzhou.


 

Then we met a real cute kitty in a shop we have been eyeing since morning - the shop that promises to send out postcards to the future. Technically, they just withhold it until the date that you want them to send out and they'll send it on your behalf. But, we fell for the romantic notion of it all, and we wrote postcards for each other for our first anniversary date.



Finally, we chanced upon this riverside bar that plays really good music with more postcards hung around its windows. Somehow I got tipsy really fast (the alcohol here kicks ass) and we headed back to HOMA Suzhou quickly to turn in for the night. What a perfect ending. I really love Suzhou and I really hope you get a chance to visit it as well. 

And the journey continues... Wait for the next one, ok? :) Till the next post 

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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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