Suzhou is known as “The Venice of the East” and was considered the most beautiful city in China by Marco Polo. With a history dating back over 2,500 years, Suzhou is filled with a rich culture and has many beautiful sites to see. Located only a short train ride from Shanghai and situated close to the Taihu Lake, Suzhou is a favorite city of many tourists and has been called home to many of China Horizon’s teachers.
What to Do:
Suzhou has plenty of gardens if you want to take a leisurely stroll through them, and also has lots of temples to visit and explore. The best known of the gardens is the Humble Administrators Garden, but there are several other famous gardens including the Lingering Garden and Garden of the Master of the Nets. There are also a great deal many shows to see in Suzhou at the Pingtan Museum and Kunqu Opera Museum and music performances in the Garden of the Master of the Nets. The annual Suzhou Silk Festival occurs every September and is the best known festival in Suzhou.
What the Weather’s like:
Suzhou temperatures are similar to Shanghai, but are a little cooler and have more distinct seasons. December through March temperatures hang around the low to mid 40s. Summers heat up in May and cool down in October, both these months are usually spent the mid-60s. June through September is the summer season; the temperatures start and end in the mid 70s with the peak in the mid 80s. Precipitation is relatively consistent year round with about 2 inches each month, except in the summer is usually rains much more than the rest of the year.
What to Eat:
The cuisine in Suzhou is typically sweeter in flavor than other food from China. Cooking methods, aromas as well as shape and color are unique to Suzhou, according to Travel China Guide. One of the best known dishes in Suzhou is sweet and sour Mandarin fish. But in this city, many dishes are eaten at specific times of the year based on the season, so try them while you can.
How to get around:
Suzhou currently lines one and two are open and another is expected to be finished in 2020. The subway is convenient and will help you navigate to many places such as the train and long distance bus stations, the expat LDS meeting house, the famous Shantangjie, as well as many other shopping locations and the gardens and museums.
Along with the subway, buses, bicycles, and scooters are other great means of transportation. Buses in China are easy and cheap to use. Check out Google Maps. When you zoom in on the city, you will see little bus emblems that represent bus stops, show up on the map. When you hover your mouse over, or click on those markers they will tell you which buses stop there.
Another great option for travel around areas near your apartment and school are the city bikes. With the help of your school or by stopping by a “Suzhou Citizen Card” office with your passport and a 200 kuai deposit (you get this back when you return the card) you receive a card that gives you access to the green bikes you will see around the city. You can ride these bikes around the city for two hours before incurring per minute charges (that will be taken from your deposit) and return the bike to any of the stands around the city. It’s a fun and convenient way to get around this beautiful city!
Where to Shop:
There are two Walmarts in Suzhou. Both are along main roads and should be relatively easy to find. The First is along Dushuhu road just north of the Su Yuan Hotel. The other is where Xiandai Ave and G15W Changtaigaosu road meet. In the downtown area, Guan Qian and Shi Quan streets are the best places to shop around for clothes, food and souvenirs.
If you are in Suzhou New District there are several Walmart equivalent shopping center options, including Tesco, Carrefour, and RT mart, google maps can tell your which is closest to you!
Where We Teach in Suzhou:
- Suzhou International Mansion Kindergarten
“This school has quite a few resources for you to use, but they won’t tell you about them right away, you’ll have to ask for them. They have chalk and dry erase boards, and TVs in every classroom that you can hook a USB to. They also have crayons and other coloring and writing utensils for the children, but again you’ll just have to ask. The school has lessons for the Chinese English teachers but allows it’s foreign teachers to teach the children whatever they want”
- Suzhou Future City Kindergarten
“The School provides an English teaching book, but they will allow you to teach whatever you would like. The teachers are super nice and help you be more creative–a few will even draw pictures for you or help you find some of the resources that are a bit more scarce.”
- Suzhou 3&3 Kindergarten
“This school has a few teaching materials; each student has a course book and pencils. Teachers are also sometimes provided with flashcards and a Chinese book (in poorly written English) with songs and activities grouped together to incorporate into lessons. Some of the classrooms have white boards, but many don’t as well.”
- Canadian International Kindergarten
“Because this school is fairly new, there are not a lot of materials there for you to use. The school however is very considerate and will order things if you ask for it”
How to attend Church:
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is an active branch in Suzhou a 10-minute-walk from the the Dongfangzhimen subway stop on the east side of the city.