A walk around Suzhou alleys

We are having a very weird summer. While in Europe and the US everybody is suffering a heat wave, here in Shanghai / Suzhou we are having a cool wave. It is July already and right now it is 17 degrees. I had never seen anything like this in all of my years in China, but I don’t complain because I seriously hate the typical Shanghai summer with 35ºC and 95% humidity. So god bless rain and cool weather!

The only negative side of this cool weather is that I haven’t been able to go to the outdoor swimming pool yet, so it looks the 30 day pass that we bought last year and only used 7 times will not be spent this year either. My last weekends have been pretty boring, mostly staying at home. And the more I stay at home, the lazier I become and the less things I do. And this couch potatoism spiral is getting out of control!

Yesterday we had to go bring some things to C.’s parents. As it was not raining on that particular moment, we decided to make the most of trip and take a walk around the neighbourhood. C.’s parent live in an alley in the center of Suzhou, not far from Guanqian Street, the pedestrian shopping avenue. Their particular street is not very beautiful because it has been taken over by garbage collectors and recyclers, so both sides are full of metal scraps, carton boxes and other trash that they pick and sell. But other streets around are nicer and give an impression of how Suzhou was a few decades ago. C. wanted to show me the way to his primary and high school, as he grew up in that area.

The houses remind me of Beijing hutongs. If you enter through the front door, you will find yourself in a narrower alley that zigzags around many small houses. Kind of like a commune. Most of the people living here are old Suzhounese people or migrants that only want a small space and a cheap rent.

One of those alleys with a door

One of those “private” alleys.

One of the "main streets".

One of the “main streets”.

It is amazing how quiet these alleys are. They are right in the city center, but you turn a corner from a busy street, enter one of them and it is like if you travelled back in time, or to a very remote village. There was almost no people, only a few grandmas chatting and a couple of children playing. One of the alleys was completely empty. It was so quiet!

There are a lot of old wells in that area.

There are a lot of old wells in that area and people still use their water to wash clothes and vegetables.

That would make a terrific reading room!

That would make a terrific reading room!

I wouldn’t mind living in one of those alleys! Although the rooms in the ground floor must be pretty dark.

During our walk we also found Nico’s distant relative, who had just taken a bath and was being blowdried:

Almost as fat as Nico was one year ago when we took her in!

Almost as fat as Nico was one year ago when we took her in!

And, of course, my favourite image of the typical Chinese street: laundry!

That is quite a long clothes line...

That is quite a long clothes line…