This morning up early to bus to Zhouzhuang called "The Best Water Town in China". We entered the old city through the Ancient Memorial Archway. It was so humid and so hot and so crowded that our spirits were dampened and we couldn't enjoy this lovely tour as I would have liked to. In 1998 Zhouzhuang was included in the Supplementary List of World Cultural Heritages by UNESCO. It's history includes more than nine hundred years. The most famous spot is the Twin Bridges first built during the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644. "The Memory of Hometown" was painted here by a young Chinese painter and was exhibited in the Hammer Gallery in NY owned by Armand Hammer and created a sensation in the US for the fairy tale state of the artist's images. The ancient town of Zhouzhuang soon became famous because of the paintings.
We also visited the residence of a rich family - Zhang Ting - built in the 1500's and it has over 60 rooms. But it was so hot we went through quickly! Had a hard time finding a restaurant we liked as Judy and I don't like the fish tanks in the window to pick out your lunch!!!
Next we boarded a boat for a 3 hour ride up the Grand Canal to Suzhou. The canal was built by one of the Emperors to give him a transportation route from Beijing to the south (for the pretty women!) A million workers built the canal in 10 years and it's length is 1,200 miles and was completed in 610AD. It links the Yellow River with the Yangtse and Beijing with Hangzhou. Thousands of barges on the canal transporting food, building supplies, fish and rice. We saw lots of people living rudimentary lives on the barges and houseboats. Massive construction everywhere; huge bridges, as if the country is planning well for the future.
To our nice hotel in Souzhou - the Friendship Hotel. Had an hours nap and then met the group for a great dinner at a Cantonese restuarant.
Off to the gardens in Souzhou tomorrow. City is over 2,500 years old situated on the canal.