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In travel circles, it seems every continent is quick to claim its own “Paris.” Search for “Paris of the East” and you’ll find cultural hubs like Beirut, Bucharest, Hanoi, Jaipur.“Paris of the North” conjures Belfast, Edinburgh, Salzburg.Steamed vegetable buns are commonly eaten for breakfast—but pan-fried varieties or smaller Dumplings are far from the only thing in Jiangsu province that impressed Marco Polo, however.“In this city there are 6,000 bridges, all of stone, and so lofty that two ships together could pass underneath them,” Polo wrote of Suzhou.But Suzhou comes close thanks to its well-preserved ancient history, hyper-modern skyline, and some very historically significant dumplings.century and its ancient waterways spidering off of the world’s largest manmade canal, China’s Grand Canal.Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.
If you don’t believe me, take it from Marco Polo: The famed explorer is said to have introduced pasta—essentially noodles and the dough used to make dumplings—to Italy after a 13) that explode in your mouth and have become famous the world over originated in nearby Shanghai, and thus are popular throughout Jiangsu province.
Classical Chinese gardens are an art form that has been cultivated over centuries and combines four elements: architecture, stone, water, and plants.
Today these gardens are best visited early to avoid the crowds, and some are better known for certain elements over others: The Humble Administrator’s Garden is the most famous for its sheer size, while Lion Grove Garden is known for its maze-like rock formations, Cangland Pavilion is Suzhou’s oldest, and Master of the Nets is a smaller option that hosts nighttime musical performances.
Replacing Paris with “Rome” or “Athens” surfaces even more cities that seem to be experiencing an identity crisis.
But one “Paris of the East” stands out for also laying claim to a certain Chinese proverb: “In heaven there is paradise, on Earth there is Suzhou.” I’ve been to Paris, Rome, and Athens, and for me none of them are heaven.