A Gweilo in 1980s China – Chapter 24

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Written by Tai Pan

If you haven’t had yet the chance to read the previous chapters, I suggest you do so by going to the ‘Story of my Life’ section and start from part 1.


When I went back to Shanghai, after spending a week in Sichuan, I was so busy with business negotiations that I literally worked for 8 days non-stop.

However, I must confess that while I was doing business my mind was still re-living the beautiful moments spent in Sichuan, especially when I touched Pandas bears, went around the old town, and visited the ancient Buddhist temple. I did feel quite guilty as my business partners were really into the deals, while I was just focusing on something else.

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Anyway, after a week in Shanghai I planned to travel to Suzhou, capital city of the Jiangsu province.

I had heard about Suzhou from some Chinese officials who told me that colourful garden settings and numerous small canals were filling up the entire city, making it look absolutely stunning.

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I was particularly interested in that area, however, not for the beautiful surroundings, but for the clothing silk production, which was renown all over the country for being the cheapest and best in China.

I can actually confirm that when I went to visit the factories there, I noticed that both the packaging of the garments and the embroidery were done and made really well!

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I stayed in Suzhou for only 2 days, out of which only was for leisure.

Nowadays businessmen who travel to China wouldn’t usually have time to go around and visit tourist spots; however, back in the days – I feel old saying this… – the business transactions were much longer and slow than today’s.

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In fact, I have to say that during my first few trips to the PRC I was actually quite worried that the Chinese did not want to do business with me as they were taking their time to seal a contract – meaning they were being really slow, and so I thought they were trying not to sign deals with me. Then I got used to their “rhythms” and I began to enjoy the “slowness” of the negotiations taking time off to go visit places and learn about the Chinese culture.

What I experience and saw probably doesn’t exist anymore, as because of tourism hitting China, most of the authenticity of the places faded. Besides, the instant development of the country has also played a big role in destroying some of China’s most beautiful and authentic spots. I am not saying that the PRC is not beautiful anymore – not at all – but surely it must have lost some of its charm.

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Anyway, talking about Suzhou, the Chinese officials who took care of me when I was there showed me a lot and took me to a lot of places; places where I learnt to let myself go to the beauty of nature and be patient and relaxed no matter what.

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When in Suzhou I was also able to admire the beautiful canals, which, I thought, made the whole city look like a movie set: everything was so peaceful, quite and beautiful, the only noise was the water flowing down the small rivers.

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We also visited the Twin Pagodas, a very special place! The pagodas were – and still are – the symbol of Suzhou, just like the Eiffel Tower is for Paris or the Coliseum for Rome.

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To cut it short, once again I had an incredible time in China, and I was able to fill up my memory box with unique memories that I possessively hide inside my heart.

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To conclude this episode, I just want to let you know that after this I will go on holiday, leaving you in “peace” for over a month.

I will come back in September to tell you more about the incredible adventures I experienced on first hand in the 1980s China, so don’t you worry, this is just a goodbye, not a farewell!

I wish to thank everyone who has followed me, and I will “see” you again on September the 6th for a new episode!

Thank you, have a great summer holiday.

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(All photos are from Google.com, and they all belong to their original owners)

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