Sunday, January 16, 2011

Retro Suzhou: Suzhou from the 1980’s

Leeds and I returned to the Jiangsu Province and moved to Suzhou at the end of 2007.  We’ve lived and worked in Suzhou since.  When I first moved to China in 2001, I started out in the Jiangsu Province (Nanjing).  After living in Guangdong’s Province (Dongguan City), for 3 ½ years, we were very happy to return to Jiangsu.

Leeds is originally from Jiangsu, I started out in Jiangsu and our family all lives in Jiangsu (Jiangyan and Hai’an, about 2 hours from Suzhou).  We’re blessed to be back home.

Utilizing the Canals (this photo is not retro but a good opener)
I was fortunate enough to come across these photos of Suzhou from the 1980s.  I’m not sure who took them.  My Chinese teacher and friend gave these to me; He is a Suzhou local.

The commentary added on the photos is my own; I could be off base but it’s how I’m interpreting the photos in light of 9 years of China living, over 3 of which was in Suzhou.  
Suzhou's been referred to as "Venice of the East"
Suzhou Canals:  Much of Suzhou still looks this way.  I see areas like this on a weekly basis.  This is called the “Old Town”

Canal Work:  This seems to be one of the gondoliers that navigate boats through the canals.  They would be for traveling or hauling merchandise for selling or daily use.   

Nowadays you don’t see these guys as often;  faded away to modernization except for the ones that give tourists rides

Veggie Vendor:  You still see many independent entrepreneurs selling fruits, veggies and all kinds of “eats” on the street.  He seems happy enough.  And even today in 2011, the street vendors seem happy.  They are not bitter and they don’t complain that they don’t have the best retirement package.  They get up everyday and go out and do what they got to do, to make ends meet.  

Girl in Winter Wear:  A large portion of folk seem to still wear this style of quote in the Winter.  This picture, setting and look could all be in 2011. 

Suzhou Traffic:  This photo of the bikes brings a tear to my eye.  Why? Because of the traffic in the street…aside from the one guy, it is non-existent!  How beautiful, how orderly, how clean…it’s like a dream.  In a way, it reminds me of how China was when I first arrived in 2001.  There weren’t so many cars, there wasn’t a monstrosity of a traffic issue, cars weren’t parked all along the road, sidewalk, on top of one another…  

The influx of cars on to the roads from around 2005 to now is amazing.  You don’t see this many folks on bikes any more.  Now it is congestion and horn honking.  The amount of cars is an eye sore.   This photo is a romantic dream of a time that’s gone with the wind…sorry I got sappy there for a moment.

Stare Session:  Guys on the bridge enjoying a good “stare”.  Not uncommon in China to enjoy a fine “stare session”.  When I first got here a million years ago that was one thing that blew my mind…how much folks just like to have a good stare.  You could sit in a restaurant and lock eyes with a man or woman and just…stare….Nobody finds it embarrassing or awkward, it’s all perfectly normal.  I go back to the States and find myself staring at people openly and unashamedly.   

As China as modernized, I’m finding the staring to decrease, but when I go to one of the smaller towns, I can still find good “stare session”.  

Retro Chair:  Not uncommon to still find items such as this.  You can find items like this in most homes.  Although all things are produced in China, you still don’t find convenient, mass-produced, high-quality branded items.  Especially in the smaller towns.  

China’s brands are still in infant stages, the international brands are largely found in the top tier and 2nd tier cities…  But the folks also are largely tight with their disposable income and try to make it not so disposable if you know what I mean… they don’t live on credit.  In conclusion, chairs like this are still found, but over time, they won’t be…

    Bundle of Joy:  Ending on a cute note.  Look at that darling staring out from the beanie and wrapped face.  This child sure is curious about the photographer.

Whoever this is, is probably late 20’s / early 30’s now….she’s really seen China change. 

Hope you enjoyed these photos.  Feel free to comment and share.  Many thanks for stopping by.

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