A Travellerspoint blog

Back to the Future - Part 2

sunny 13 °C

Moviegoers will recall that Marty McFly time travelled in a DeLorean sports car at precisely eighty eight miles per hour in Back to the Future but we did better than that earlier in the week when we zoomed back in time at three hundred kilometres an hour on this bullet train from Shanghai to the ancient garden city of Suzhou...
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We sprinted the 100 kilometres in just 23 minutes and were surprised to see that there wasn't enough room to slip a sheet of rice paper between the two cities as we sped from one to the other. Shanghai's twenty million inhabitants have spilled over the surrounding countryside and collided with Suzhou's six million souls in a continuous sea of suburban sprawl. There are more people living in this mega-urban area than in the whole of Canada, however, at the core of Suzhou's factories and conglomerations of highrises, the old city centre is still an oasis of gardens and charming canalside houses. It's not Venice - not even close - but it does have some pleasant features...
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This is the 16th century garden of the Humble Administrator and, despite the crush of tourists, we managed to get a few shots of its more tranquil corners...
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Water is a major element of the Yangtze River delta and, in the past, a network of canals were the highways of this region. Suzhou's canals are no longer used for commercial transport, although the garbage is still collected by boat...
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The peaceful canals are now the preserve of tourist boats...
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Suzhou has far more tourists than is good for it and, even though we visited on one of its quietest days, we constantly found ourselves in the spotlight. Wherever we go we are politely asked if we would mind being photographed with mum, dad or the kids. There are few foreigners here at present and we obviously stick out - especially James who, to the average Chinaman, is a grey-bearded monster. One young lady delighted in getting this photo of the monster with her father and grandfather...
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Our last stop in Shanghai took us to the top of one of the world's tallest buildings. This is the Shanghai World Financial Centre which rises nearly half a kilometre above the city...
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And here's the view from the observation deck a hundred floors up...
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Now we are heading south again at 300 kph to Hangzhou - another 'quiet little' place of just seven million people.
Here's some food for thought - The U.S. is considering building its first high speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, (and possibly even as far as Seattle), by 2018. While China will have sixteen thousand kilometres of high speed train lines by 2014!

Posted by Hawkson 05:51 Archived in China

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Comments

I love the train info, being a "railroad brat". The cities are astonishing, and so are you two!
hugs, Sharron

by Sharron

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