Category Archives: Suzhou

Walking Circles in the Great Guanqian Road Area

Nearly most Chinese cities have a pedestrian commercial street filled with shops, eateries, and more, and Suzhou is no different in that regard. Guanqian Road, however, is huge, and the network of streets, alleys and walkways here is truly labyrinthine.

Like most places in China, there is a vast history here, but the most notable thing here is Xuan Miao Temple. It’s one of the largest Taoist places of worship in the Jiangnan region.

Truthfully, this area is so huge, it’s easy to get lost if you are a newcomer or casual visitor to Suzhou. I actually spent two hours here and ended up walking in circles. Essentially, I was trying to get back to the Leqiao subway stop — to get back to the central station to hop onto a train to Changzhou. Only, I didn’t know one important thing. Suzhou now has more than two subway lines, now. This area is so big, it has it’s old stop at Leqiao, but there is a separate one for Line 4, and that goes directly to the rail station with no need to interchange. None the less, I still walked in circles. I didn’t mind, at the time, because I got the feeling that this part of the city is large, and so crammed, that I could visit here several times and still see something I hadn’t on a prior visit.

Suzhou Has a Train to Hogwarts?

Can you take a train from Suzhou to Hogwarts? Of course you cannot. Hogwarts and the Hogwarts Express exists only in the pages of J.K. Rowling’s wonderful Harry Potter novels. However, there is “Platform Nine and Three Quarters” ¬†at Guangjinan Station in Suzhou. This would be on Line 2 as part of Suzhou’s subway system.

Nine and Three Quarters is not the most magical or inspiring place in the Potterverse. After all, you have to pass through a solid concrete pillar to get to it. Not much happens there either. Parents put their kids on a train to wizarding school there. Even in magical world of J.K. Rowling’s fiction, train stations fail to be truly inspiring. However, think of how important the place is in Harry Potter’s life. It is here he departs for Hogwarts and a new life for the first time, and here is where the seven-novel series ends after he defeats Voldamort and the Death Eaters. He sends his youngest son off for magical training for the first time. Incidentally, this is where the new Harry Potter Broadway play also begins. So, while not inspiring, it is still an important place.

“Nine and Three Quarters Platform” in Suzhou can just be chalked up as another bit of seemingly random Chinese weirdness. Here, you can find two wall displays related to Potter’s world. Everything else looked shuttered and shut down. This could be because Spring Festival holidays are gearing up in Suzhou and around China. But, in the end, it’s just a strange and tiny underground shopping area.