Suzhou is a beautiful city about 50 miles inland from Shanghai, one of the oldest cities in China. My dad manages a couple factories there, my best friend in Australia was born there, so I visit that place a lot. Supposedly founded in 514 BC, this rich area around the Taihu Lake has been settled for much longer than that. Later, benefitting from the construction of the Grand Canal, Suzhou became an important stop in the rice transport route, then later as a port for foreign shipping. It remained an important Chinese commercial center for China until its total destruction by the invading Japanese armies, which reduced its population from over a million to less than 500, littering the fair city with the corpses of the dead. It was rebuilt after the war, but it never returned to its former glory.

Suzhou is renowned for its temples (the Japanese spared those for some reason) and the beautiful women. Strangely enough, the women do look good there. An old Chinese proverb advises everyone to live in Suzhou if they could for the wonderful women, the good food and the clothing, for Suzhou is also a major silk producing center. It was a former imperial winter holiday destination in the dynastic eras. Home to thousands of graceful bridges, rivers, gardens, pavilions and parks, Suzhou is now a major tourist spot for the new Shanghai yuppies. It's 2,500 year history took me weeks to go through.

The food there is excellent, for Suzhou lies in some of the most fertile land in China. I shall not mention my encounter with hookers there, but I will say that I was mighty tempted. Very fine silk clothing can be obtained in Suzhou, as well as high quality pottery, china and ceramics.

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