My impressions of China: Suzhou and Hangzhou
Suzhou is well-known for beautiful girls (like Carina Lau the actress) and also for its silk products. On a tour to China, I visited Suzhou and saw the process of making silk. The end products are really good especially the silk blankets. Do you know that if you were to pull the silk cocoon from front till the end, it will probably be as long as 1600-1800 metres?
Besides silk, there are other attractions too such as the "Si Zhi Lin" (Lion Forest Garden) where you can pretend that you are in ancient China. The garden is named so because there are many stones in the garden which look similar to lions. There are also several mini caves in the garden and you can explore them too. In the past, the stones used to make this garden were even more expensive than gems. Thus, the person who built this garden, was a super billionaire during those times.
While in Suzhou, do look out for the colour of the buildings too. They are usually in black and white scheme as in a black roof and with white walls. This is reflective of the Taoism belief of yin and yang.
I spent about 2 days in Suzhou during my weeklong trip in China. If given the opportunity to visit again, I would say Yes immediately!
In Hangzhou, it is impossible to avoid West Lake (Xihu). It is so huge, and although the many tours are touristy it is still worth a trip. Before embarking on a cruise around West Lake, do spend some time at the West Lake Museum.
Besides the lake, Hangzhou is also famous for a staple drink in China: tea. I visited the Mei Jia Wu Tea Garden which is famous for producing the Longjing tea, which is a type of green tea. Here in Hangzhou, tea is a part of life as the people enjoy spending their leisure time at tea houses where they pay about 60renminbi for a free flow of tea and snacks.
Another unique thing that I learnt too was that in Hangzhou, people say "zhi cha" (eat tea) and not "he cha" (drink tea). This is because after drinking the tea, they do not throw away the tea leaves. Instead, it is eaten. isn't that interesting?
If you are more interested in history, then Beijing would make a great stop too. Find out more here.