Shayne and I decided to pick up some culture a few days ago. We met another couple and their son, took a bus to downtown Suzhou for dinner and a show. It was my first time on a city bus, but luckily Shayne is already a seasoned pro with the local transit systems and expert guide. The cost for a bus into the city was 2 RMB (about $0.30), which would have been half that for a bus without A/C.
First stop was Yang Yang, a favorite Chinese cuisine place for westerners. The place is well liked because the menu has pictures AND English descriptions of the food. Also, the offerings are a little closer to the westernized version of Chinese food we're used to from the States.
A short walk from the restaurant is the Garden of the Master of the Nets, one of the more (if not the most) popular and beautiful gardens in Suzhou, which is a city known for beautiful gardens. During the summer months, performances are offered in the evening. At various places within the garden are unique performances. They vary from singing to dancing to acting to instrumentals. We had a guide who led the group from one show to the next, and introduced each in Mandarin and English.
The garden itself isn't exactly what you might imagine as a garden, but is very similar to most of the gardens in Suzhou. It is a gathering of buildings, ponds and open space...all connected with a labyrinth of paths. The performances were located within the buildings which were by themselves quite interesting to see, and the rest of the garden was quite nice. We agreed to return during daylight hours just to see it all again.
Entry to the garden for the performances cost around $15 per person, I don't remember the exact amount but it was reasonable. We aren't sure, but we suspect entry fee during the day is less because the performances aren't ongoing.
Each performance lasted about five minutes and was followed by a stroll through the labyrinth to the next. I took some video until the camera battery died, and have edited it down to an easily digested single short video. This will give you an idea of the performances, but it doesn't include them all (because the battery died) and is only a snippet of each. Enjoy in HD...
The entire experience was pleasant and enjoyable. The weather was very comfortable and the crowds weren't too heavy. We strongly recommend paying a visit to the Master of Nets Garden to view the performances any night between March and November starting at 7:30pm.