Beijing Day 5: Suzhou Street in Summer Palace


Ben and I was debating on whether we should visit Suzhou Street or not because it was a long walk from where we were. Suzhou Street is located within the grounds of the Summer Palace.

I insisted I want to go there because our entrance ticket included the entrance to Suzhou Street. I did not want to waste the ticket even though we were all tired already from all the walking.

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Suzhou Street (Suzhou Jie) was a street built by Emperor Qianlong for the members of his court to imagine themselves being in the canal town of Suzhou. This is like his personal playground.

The shops here were even filled with products from Suzhou. The shop assistants wearing clothes in the style of the Qing Dynasty warmly welcome customers from all over the world.

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Suzhou Street is in the middle section of Back Lake that runs for over 300 meters. The … reflection of the surrounding shops, bridges and archways on the water make this place an ideal place for photography.

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There were 8 small bridges in the Suzhou Street.

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Another mirror image of  the scene in Suzhou Street.

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Fall adds colour to the Suzhou Street.

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There were some restaurants here too but we did not try any. We were pretty sure it’s a tourist trap with exorbitant prices and not so good tasting food.

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Just like a postcard shot.

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Another wonderful scene.

Here is a story of how Suzhou Street came about which I found on this page:

One day during the Emperor Qianlong’s visit to Suzhou, he dressed up as a pilgrim and came to a Buddhist nunnery where he met a beautiful nun. Deeply attracted by her charming beauty, the emperor wanted to take her back to his palace. But it would break the Buddhist regulations to publicly choose a nun as a concubine. After came back to Beijing, the Emperor finally got a good way to solve this headache problem. He ordered to build a “Quanzong Temple” for the nun. The place was secluded with a beautiful view. Every time when Qianlong visited the temple, it served as his temporary palace and that beautiful nun was his favorite concubine.

One day, as usual, Qianlong came to Quanzong Temple, but he was told that the beauty was sick. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked her with deep concern. “Nothing’s wrong. It has been several years since I left home, and I’m homesick now. I want to go back to have a see.” the beauty answered with tears in her eyes. “It’s very easy. I’ll come with you to Suzhou in half a year.”

Half a year later, the Emperor came to the temple and asked the beauty to go to Suzhou with him. Incredulously, the beauty got in the carriage. But an hour later, the carriage stopped suddenly. One maiden asked her to get off, “Here it is Suzhou”. “It is impossible. How could we get to Suzhou in one hour?” the beauty poked her head out. She could hardly believe the sight before her eyes. A little river wound through the middle of the street. Along the two sides of the street, there were many shops selling the goods from Suzhou. The passers-by and shop owners all spoke Suzhou dialect. The whole scene before her eyes made her feel staying in Suzhou.

It turned out that the Emperor ordered to build a commercial street near Quanzong Temple. Also, a large number of merchants and shops were moved here to add more Suzhou’s flavor. From then on, Emperor Qianlong could often take the beautiful nun here to admire the charming Suzhou view. And because of this, the street has become known as Suzhou Market Street.

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Finally, we were done with the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was huge. We barely covered 1/3 of the area. We were really tired and hungry. On the way, there were some street vendors selling grilled yam, steamed corn, etc.

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I love yam, so we got one to try. It’s only RMB2 (about CAD0.35). It was really nice and sweet. Grilled yam can be found every where in Beijing. The price here is more expensive because it’s a tourist place. Just down the street, we saw other street vendors selling the same thing for RMB1.

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