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UPDATED: October-13-2009 NO. 41 OCTOBER 15, 2009
Lakeside Respite
Taihu Lake is reason enough to visit Wuxi

LAKE CITY: Taihu Lake has become an integral part of Wuxi City. Wuxi built its amusement park next to Lihu Lake, the inner lake of Taihu Lake (JIANG XIAOYING)

When the soft breezes blow, waves roll and the hills in the distance look like an overlapping landscape painting. Taihu Lake is the third largest freshwater lake in China. With a surface area of about 2,338 square km, Taihu Lake is famed for its hills and splendid scenery.

The area is adjacent to the major cities of Huzhou, in Zhejiang Province, Suzhou and Wuxi, in Jiangsu Province. But for a long time, Taihu Lake has been most closely connected to Wuxi.

Wuxi, the second largest city in east China's Jiangsu Province with a population of 4.6 million, is the best place to see the beauty of Taihu Lake. The city is an important transportation hub in east China and is easily accessible by train, bus or plane.

From Beijing, the D307 train runs every day at 9:30 p.m. and arrives in Wuxi at 6:40 a.m. the next day. Seven flights fly daily from the capital. Forty trains depart from Shanghai to Wuxi every day.

Wuxi's long-distance bus and railway stations are only a five-minute walk from the city proper. A number of economy hotels are situated just opposite the railway station, such as Motel 168, Home Inn and the Seven Days Hotel. A double room for one night costs 170 yuan ($25), including free Internet access.

The Turtle Head Peninsula

In 1978, a song named Beautiful Taihu Lake became popular all around China. The song recalled the beautiful scenery and rich resources of the lake region. In 2003, the Wuxi Municipal Government made it the city's anthem.

The best place to view beautiful Taihu Lake is at Turtle Head Peninsula Park. Jutting out into the lake, the peninsula is like the head of a turtle protruding from the water. The park is 18 km from the railway station. The K1 bus, which starts from the railway station, costs 2 yuan ($0.29) per person and takes about 40 minutes to get there.

DRAWING HAPPINESS: A salesgirl draws Huishan clay figurines at her workshop in Turtle Head Peninsula Park (JIANG XIAOYING)


Park admission is 105 yuan ($15.4), which includes the cost of the bus trip to the main attractions and a boat ride to the three tiny Fairy Islands. A coupon costing 135 yuan ($19.9) is recommended and includes admission to the peninsula park, Yin Garden, Li Garden, Plum Garden and Xihui Park. The coupon expires two days after issuance.

Visitors starting out from the park's main gate follow the lane on the left. Flowers and trees can be seen growing everywhere. A canopy of thick foliage arches over the road. Deer Mountain appears after 10 minutes' walk. A pavilion on the peak affords a bird's-eye view of the lake.

A world composed of trees, flowers, lakes and ponds abounds. Guangfu Temple, near the Taihu Villa, offers a bowl of vegetarian noodles with mushrooms, black fungus and gingko that used to be specially made for the temple monks.

Waves slapping at the reef can be heard below while walking in the mountains. Visitors can take their time with Taihu Lake. They pause to gaze at their reflections in the water, or walk down to the trestle bridge.

The lake and the surrounding magnificence can bewitch the eyes when climbing onto Turtle Head. Waves roll and the hills in the distance look like a landscape painting when a soft breeze blows.

The ferry takes tourists across to the three Fairy Islands, which are joined together by bridges. Visitors can enjoy a pleasant hour or two exploring the Memorial Gateway, the Screen Wall of Heaven, the Water Curtained Cave, Huixian Bridge, Heavenly Fragrance Mansion, the Taoist Altar, Matchmaker God's Temple and Goddess Palace. It's a pleasant spot with something for everyone.

Xihui Park is the top of the other four sights included in the coupon ticket. The park is named after Huishan Hill and Xishan Hill. Its most important spot is the 32-meter-tall octagonal Longguang. It offers a new perspective of the city and the lake, and is the symbol of Wuxi.

The local handcraft is Huishan clay figurines. The little clay figures are not only very cute and colorful, but also full of cultural connotations. Ding Guoan, the owner of Ding's Clay Figurine Workshop in Xihui Park, is a fifth-generation clay figure maker.

It should come as no surprise that local cuisine features fish. One of the most well-known local dishes is Taihu Lake Three Whites, which includes white shrimp, whitebait and whitefish. Local chain restaurant Xixin offers genuine Wuxi regional food and has won wide recognition among residents. The wait can stretch to half an hour on weekend nights at the popular eatery.

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