Iain Manley, editor of City Weekend‘s relatively new Holiday Fu, has just put together an excellent city guide for Suzhou. Most all the large travel portals give Suzhou a mention, but Iain’s writeup is full of a wit and insight that makes it a fun and informative read, even for this laowai that has called the place home for three years now.
Locals half-heartedly bemoan the changes prosperity has brought. The city, they say, is irrevocably different. But Suzhou has hung onto its character, and is an excellent place to witness the contrast and clash of new and old in today’s China. On Pingjiang Lu, an old, cobbled street beside a canal, it is possible to sit, a little guiltily, beside the water, sipping Italian coffee and surfing the internet, while residents of the ramshackle homes nearby, carrying-poles slung between their shoulder blades, collect the day’s water in buckets.
If you live in, or plan to visit, Suzhou I highly recommend giving the guide a look at. You can read it online here, or download it as a PDF for offline viewing.