Sunday, February 5, 2012

What We're Expecting: About the SIP

Here is part two in our pre-move data dump informational series on what little we know about our future life in China. These posts are designed to inform our family and friends, as well as get the boring stuff out of the way early. Once on the ground there will not be much time for this'll be all awesome, all the time after the first week of March.

 The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is not like the industrial parks in America; you've got to get past that to understand it's really a city within a city. The SIP covers about 110 square miles and, according to at least one website, the population is around 600,000 people. The park is also home to many local and international companies.

According to our internet research, the SIP was started in the 1990's. It is a joint venture between the Chinese and Singaporean Governments as an area focusing on economic development. The development model seems to be focused on creating a nice place for people to live and work. "If you build it they will come" is the saying that keeps coming to mind.

Photo courtesy of Alex_1982's Panoramio page

The SIP is located around Jinji Lake, to the east of Suzhou's old city and is still under development. There is ongoing construction at many locations. The above picture is a scale model of the future vision rather than the current state.

The picture below is from the lake side, looking west at the space that will be filled with the white glowing buildings shown above. You can see two tall buildings under construction...once complete in 2013, the two towers will touch at the top and be a single 68 story building known as "Gate of the Orient" (click this link for more info and renderings of the final product.)

During Clif's October trip, he stayed in the SIP at a hotel built to look like a cruise ship. He was thoroughly impressed. The area around his hotel was clearly developed as a high class residential zone with high rise apartment buildings, shopping centers and restaurants. Even a walk down the sidewalk was filled with visual stimuli from beautiful landscaping, flashing lights and sculptures.

In case you haven't guessed it by now, we plan to live in the SIP. The area is a common place for expats to live and hosts a healthy German, Korean and American population. Many from Clif's company have settled here to work at the plants in Wuxi and Suzhou. The expat community in SIP has already begun to reach out to us. We appreciate this support and look forward to the day we're in a position to reach out to others.

 We know there are many western restaurants such as Subway, Burger King and Cold Stone Creamery in the area. For more adventurous nights, there are plenty of eastern cuisine options too. We've been told shopping for typical western prepackaged foods can be expensive, but things like breads, fruits and vegetables are very affordable.

There is even a Walmart in the area, but we're told it's not popular because the prices are too high. Imagine that! The locals prefer a similar place called Auchan (an international brand headquartered in France,) which I've heard can be overwhelmingly busy. The SIP Auchan is the largest in China and second largest in the world. I look forward to taking pictures of that place to share with you.

Map courtesy of GEM Global College

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