The theme letter for our travel pics this week is X (Marks the spot).
Our final X is the Extensive canal system of Suzhou
Suzhou is a city on the shores of Lake Tai, in the Yangtze River delta – and it is known as the Venice of China, because it, too, has a series of canals.
But unlike Venice, which is essentially a series of island, the canals of Suzhou are almost all artificial.
About 1200 years ago, the then mayor of the town started encouraging locals to build the canals – which culminated in the Grand Canal of Shantang Street, where this picture was taken, and about 400 years later, Pingjiang Street.
Tourist boats start their journey here, and then navigate past shops, and houses, and the famous Tiger Hill and Pan Gate in the Gusu district at the centre of Suzhou.
The greater metropolis has more than four million people but you would never guess that from the Old Town centre which, while busy, is nowhere near as frenetic as some areas of China.
There may be better ‘old town’ locations in China – and even (arguably) better canal-side villages – but there’s a reason that Suzhou is visited by squillions of people every year.
As a slice-of-life location, with some excellent gardens (for example the Lingering Gardens) it’s well worth a day-trip from Shanghai, around 100km away.