The luscious gardens in Suzhou help keep the freshness in the air, unlike toxic conditions in nearby cities.


Experience Tongli town’s romantic side by taking a nighttime stroll. #TravelSuzhou

A photo posted by Suzhou Tourism (@visitsuzhou) on

I caught a fever a few weeks after arriving in China. It left me with a smoker’s cough, which remained a permanent side affect until I left the country. Fifteen minutes away by bullet train was Suzhou. There I was finally able to breath in some crisp, fresh air and exhale some of Shanghai’s industrial pollution.

Suzhou’s beauty lies in its lush imperial gardens and beautiful stone bridges.  It would have been paradise had it not been for the hordes of tourists. But who am I kidding? This is China. There are hordes of people everywhere.

My one-day trip began at the Lingering Garden, one of the most famous gardens in China and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The blending of trees, flowers, stones and water created a harmonious landscape, which made me wonder what was natural and what were man-made.

Second stop: The Tiger Hill Pagoda, Suzhou’s Leaning Tower of Pisa. It sits on a summit on a small hill, which would have give me an amazing view of the sunset. We were a few minutes too late. Instead, we enjoyed the sunset peaking in and out between the tree leaves.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.