December 2018. I think as travellers we’re often guilty of just going to see the famous stuff when we visit new places. Sometimes though it’s also nice to get a picture of authentic local life to better understand what makes a city tick. Very often this can easily be done by including those regular neighborhoods on your walking route to the main sites. I penciled in some exploring along Pishi Street as I made my way to The Humble Administrator’s Garden. Pishi Street is one of Suzhou’s main plant streets, a quiet, leafy road packed with florists and a sizeable plant market.
December 2018. I found Pishi Street to be really charming and couldn’t help but romanticize about living in Suzhou and filling my little apartment with some of the gorgeous plants and flowers on offer. This market square is located about halfway down the street, just look out for the arched opening and duck inside.
December 2018. Pishi Street’s plant and flower vendors are pretty friendly and chatty, throw just a few words of Chinese at them and they’ll hit you with a conversational storm. Fun, but I found myself quickly out of my depth. Prices are reasonable considering the quality on offer, with most of the little trees and bonsais starting from 100 RMB (£11.50/€12.70/$14.60).
December 2018. Curiously Pishi Street also specializes in rocks and minerals. There are some really cool pieces on display, especially inside the dusty stores where you’ll see gargantuan rocks ideal for elaborate garden displays. Some of the vendors like this gu, have a stall out on the pavement for smaller stones. The husband and wife in this video were in deep negotiations over a jagged little rock, but seemed dissatisfied about something or other and in the end walked away empty-handed.
December 2018. I came across this affable chap right at the end of Pishi Street where he was filing a monster rock into shape. Despite the language barrier, and indeed the fact that very few foreign tourists spend time wandering around Pishi Street, he was quick to converse with me and show off his rock. Not because he was hoping for a sale, just to be friendly. It’s not always like this in China, so for me it was a lovely moment.
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