After 3 days of traffic, noise, pollution and millions of people I had enough of Shanghai downtown and asked my friend Mr. Ji whether he would be willing to drive with me to some nice rural place outside town. He laughed and said that this would require at least a 2 hours drive.
So off we went direction west towards the ANHUI region. It took us about an hour until we crossed the city limits of Shanghai and then another hour to arrive at our destination. In between for about 100 km just industrial agglomerations and high rises under construction – this is China.
About 130 km west of Shanghai close to the city of Suzhou there is TaiHu Lake, one of the largest sweet water lakes in China. There are several islands within the lake which are connected by white bridges.
The whole area is a preferred weekend/holiday resort for the middle/upper class of Shanghai with golf course, boating marinas, meeting hotels and vacation homes close to the lake.
Once you get away from the beaten track, you encounter almost unspoiled nature and rural life. We stopped at a small village called Mei Yuan which is the capital of plum horticulture including a plum university. Life is still at a very slow pace – we went by some crab fishers and at the local street market.
Up from a hill, we had a splendid view on the plum gardens – the famous plum liquor and everything out of plum is made here.
On our way back, we had lunch at a very elegant hotel just right at the lake. We were the only guests as the season was over. Nevertheless, they managed to cook us a meal from local incredients within 20 minutes – white fish from the lake, specialty soup, some vegetables (no idea what it was) and porc with tofu. All tasted special, but was very good.
Our way back took another two hours with some detours as the roads into Shanghai were as congested as ever – but we made it back. Quite an adventure for two hours of relaxation at a lake.