My first time in Suzhou

I have something to confess: the first time I visited Suzhou I didn’t like it at all. It was hot (and it was only the first week of May!), it was humid, the people were rude and my hostel room had bugs, including one that had the courtesy of waking me up by taking a walk on my face.

I traveled to Suzhou and Shanghai from Beijing during the May holidays with two Korean classmates. A few years ago there was one week of holidays at the beginning of May, now you can count yourself lucky if you get 3 days in a row (May 1 plus the weekend). We went by train. There were no fast trains and the journey was 12 hours.

I don’t know what happened that year but it was incredibly hot. We visited the Master of the Nets Garden, the Suzhou Museum, the Humble Administrator’s Garden and the Zhouzhuang water town. I must have been very grumpy the whole time because I didn’t take many pictures. Fortunately I also have the pictures that the two Korean girls took.


Zhouzhuang water town. That day, apart from being hot and humid, it was also raining.

I’m not sure why I left Suzhou thinking that the people were rude. I only remember that the day we had to go to the train station it was raining and taxis didn’t want to stop for us. We ended up taking a bus and praying we wouldn’t be late for the train. Maybe the receptionist was also not nice. Oh, that nasty hostel with bugs and matresses as thick as blankets. I think it closed a long time ago. They deserved it.

My two Korean classmates in the shitty Suzhou hostel.

My two Korean classmates in the shitty Suzhou hostel.

I remember thinking the Humble Administrator’s Garden was too big. It was scorching hot, in case I didn’t mention it yet, and I felt exhausted. One of the Korean girls took this picture.

Me, at the tender age of 23, melting at a garden.

Me, at the tender age of 23, melting in a garden.


The day we went to Zhouzhuang we visited the town in the morning and got the last bus going to Shanghai in the afternoon. There was a lot of people and we were worried we would have no seats. Well, that didn’t happen because what the bus driver did was putting small stools in the bus aisle, so he could sell more tickets.

I don't think this is legal. Or safe.

I don’t think this is legal. Or safe.

My first visit to Suzhou was definitely not among my favourite trips, and the city itself was in no way among my preferred cities in China. If I had chosen myself, I would have probably never moved there so I would have never met C. But destiny, or 缘分 yuanfen, had other plans for me. Now, after a few years living in Suzhou, I like it. It is a nice city. People are not rude, if anything, less talkative than in the north. Summers have been bearable. And I never had a bug running over my face again.

Have you ever had a bad first impression about a place and later changed your opinion?