Suzhou (the good and the bad).

Nanjing to Suzhou was a short drive. The only problem was where to park in Suzhou. Luckily China Swan had located a hotel for us. So it should have been a simple and stress free day.

We arrived at the recommended Suzhou Hotel at about 12:00. It looked good, lots of parking, trees and grass. The only problem is we can not stay there! But they say there is somewhere to park just down the road. There is but only for bicycles! Opposite is a large Guesthouse with plenty of parking, but they won't let us park there. So we decide to try the park, on the other side of town, where the French stayed in 2000, if we can find it. We eventually do find it, but now it closes at night, so we can't stay. But apparently there is a 24 hour parking area "just up the road". There is but it is only for trucks and we are not welcome. The Master of the Nets garden, Suzhou.Our guide suggests asking a taxi to lead us to any nearby hotel with a large parking area, on the way we notice the "China Suzhou Silk Arts Exhibition Centre", they seem to have a large empty parking area. They agree we can park for the night but must leave by 09:00 next morning (we want to stay two nights). After some negotiation we are offered a parking place within the "exhibition centre" (actually an industrial estate) for 20 Yuan per van per night, and we can stay all day (N31.32976 E120.57473).

The entire process has involved three hours of driving through Suzhou's traffic and considerable stress. The afternoon is wasted.

As the four French vans are two days behind us, each time we find somewhere to park we SMS (Text) them with the location, thus saving them the same hassle we are having.

The next morning we visit some of the gardens for which Suzhou is rightly famous. We watch silk being embroidered and eat dumplings. An enjoyable day.

But tomorrow we will have to find somewhere to stay in Shanghai!

Stephen Stewart.

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