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Eye-opening experience in Suzhou, Shanghai for youths

by Karen Bong, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on December 8, 2012, Saturday

SIGHTSEEING: The Malaysian youths taking a boat ride along Shantang River.

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Participants of the Malaysia-China Youth Exchange 2012 programme began their 11th day here by exploring the famous historic and cultural street in Suzhou.

Shantang Street, also known as `Qili Shantang’, is for pedestrians and has a 1,200 years long history. ‘Qili’, or seven miles, means the length of the road.

The Malaysian youths also enjoyed a boat ride along Shantang River to observe the way of life of the people living
by the riverbanks, while soaking in its natural beauty at the same time.

Its splendid history and rich cultural heritage are well represented by the architecture of this ancient city which is filled with hidden alleys, spacious courtyard, wooden houses, and old bridges.

After the brief boat ride, everyone stroll the seven-mile-long street besides making numerous shops along the way to pick up souvenirs.

Dubbed ‘East Venice of the World’, Suzhou is criss-crossed by rivers and lakes.

Yangtze River, the most spectacular river in the region, flows through the city’s north boundary while the Grand
Canal stretches from the north to the south.

Tour guide Lao Li said the city is famous for its natural beauty, classical gardens, bridges and waters, traditional operas and soft dialect tone.

The short visit to Suzhou did not allow the group to have an in depth look at Suzhou, especially its classical gardens, such as
`The Humble Administrator’s Garden’, which gave the city international stardom.

After Suzhou, the group was whizzed to Shanghai, about 100 kilometres away.

Upon arrival, they had a simple lunch before visiting a couple of tourist attractions.

Shanghai is a bustling city with about 21 million people, making it the largest city by population in China.

The group’s first stop was Shanghai Urban Planning Development Centre.

Themed ‘City, Citizens, Environment and Development’, the centre display the past, present and future of Shanghai.

Covering an area of 7,000 square meters, the centre spanned five floors and a mezzanine.

Taking centre stage is a huge model of the city of Shanghai, showing all existing and approved buildings.

After that, the Malaysian youths explored Shanghai Old Street, historically called ‘Miaoqian Laojie’ to discover what Shanghai was like in the old days.

It is an old business street that oozes with tourist attractions, shops, entertainment and cultural exhibits.

It was a crowded place of winding streets and vibrant markets which gave ample opportunities for the Malaysian visitors to shop for souvenirs, snacks, crafts, small commodities and even taste the famous Shanghai steam bun (‘Xiao long bao’).

The buildings here, with its elegant and yet simple architecture, reflect the style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). Later, everyone proceeded to The Bund, which is very much like the Waterfront, but much bigger and with a beautiful landscape in a bustling metropolis.

The Bund is the symbol of Shanghai’s hundred years’ history and development. Here, the visiting youths got to view gigantic buildings that surround the mother river of Shanghai – Huangpu River.

At night, The Bund is brightly lit and dazzling to the eye.

The day ended with a dinner, and, thereafter, a visit to the Shanghai World Financial Center, which is a super tall skyscraper in Pudong New Area.

It is a mixed use skyscraper which consists of offices, hotels, conference rooms, observation decks, and shopping malls on the ground floors.

The skyscraper at 492.0 metres is the second tallest building in the world.

It is the tallest structure on mainland China, including Hong Kong.

The participants are on an exchange programme organised by KTS Group of Companies as part of events to commemorate its 50th anniversary celebrations.

Through the exchange, it is hoped that the participants will develop new skills, knowledge, experience and gain broader perspective of the world while building meaningful and lasting connections with the people they meet along the way.

So far, they have visited Shenzhen, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Minqing county, Suzhou and Shanghai.

Today, they will fly to Shenzhen before being ferried to their final destination – Hong Kong.

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