I had a grand plan for this blog on the trip. Although Suzhou is a “small” Chinese city, with a mere 6 million people in the greater metropolitan area, I figured that the Irish had most likely broken into the social scene and established a local drinking establishment there. And before I left, I used the trusty Internet to discover that I was right. There was reportedly one lone Irish pub in the city, called the Shamrock, on Shiquan Street. I resolved to go there, have a pint, and capture on video the live Irish music that I assumed could be found in Irish pubs the world over.
Well, not only was there no Irish music — there was also no Irish pub. Although we were armed with only an address and a vague idea of the pub’s location, my husband and a friend and I set out from our hotel one evening with great confidence. We could practically taste the Guinness and smell the fish and chips. But as we made our way down one long, crowded boulevard after another, we came to realize that it was not to be. An hour and a half after our journey had begun, we found an English-language bookstore, where a table of expatriates informed us of the Shamrock’s demise just a month before.
Luckily, the following week, I discovered the nighttime tour of the Master of the Nets Garden, just down the street from the Shamrock’s former home. The garden was first constructed in 1140 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here’s just one of the performances I saw there. No, it’s not Irish — but still extremely cool.