To any one wondering why I have been switching countries: My posts are chronicles of my past journeys and I took a conscious decision to not stick to any particular order, to make for some variety. Posts (when I have written enough to overflow my front page :-)) can be viewed by destination from the drop down “Destinations” menu on top.
Now on to Tongli……
We had initially chosen Xitang from the many water towns in China, after watching “Mission Impossible III”. But our 5 nights in the Chongqing region had eaten into our time and the logistics of getting there from Hangzhou (in the given time frame) proved too complicated. So we settled for a daytrip to Tongli.
About an hours drive from Suzhou, Tongli is a quaint little water town with a long history. There are taxis and shuttle buses leaving from the Suzhou train station at regular intervals. We took a taxi and negotiated with the driver to wait for us and drop us back at the station.
I wouldn’t quite call Tongli the “Venice of the Orient”. It feels a bit contrived, the old facades and waterways on ‘show’ for inquisitive western tourists. Yet it is a pretty little place with the canals still in use, much as they were in the past and most of the Ming & Qing Dynasty residences facing the waterfront, along with souvenir shops and little food stalls and tea houses.
We snacked on deep fried sesame pastries dusted with sugar and spicy dumplings, from a food stall, all for a few RMB. But the pot of tea we had at a riverside tea house cost us several dollars! Then again we should have remembered to check the price before we ordered.
The Tuisi garden is on par with any garden in Suzhou and much less visited, since most tourists dash in and out of Tongli on whistle stop tours
Built in 1886 it is now a Unesco world heritage site!
The residence of the original owners is beautifully preserved
And the vistas from the rooms and balconies really serene and Zen like!
The profusion of canals – 15 in all – obviously require bridges and there are apparently a total of 49 bridges in Tongli.
The main ones are Taiping (Peace and Tranquility) Bridge, Jili (Luck) Bridge and Changqing (Lasting Celebration) Bridge. As you might have guessed, I do not remember which is which!
These three straddle three different canals, forming a connecting ring that is considered auspicious! It is the done thing therefore to walk over all three on special occasions to invite good fortune! I did too…….just in case 🙂
Wishing you much good fortune and happy travels!