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Living the high-life in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)

Living the High-life in SIP

by Bonny Buckley

Nearly five years ago, my husband and I moved to SIP from Böblingen, Germany, when he accepted a new position to work in Changshu, a suburb of Suzhou. Once we arrived, we quickly found a bright apartment on a high floor in the compound Linglongwan Huayuan to the north of Jinji Lake. Star Regal Property Management, which is also located in SIP and has plenty of experience helping foreign clients to find suitable accommodations, helped us to find our place. We love Bayside Garden for its location and its many conveniences, like having a supermarket with international groceries, restaurants and a European style bakery in easy walking distance inside the neighborhood.

Although both of us work outside of SIP, we deliberately choose to live here because of the fine quality of life, and we enjoy many of our favorite activities right here in SIP, such as sailing, playing chamber music with international friends, and attending cultural events when we have free time. We decided early on that it would be best to live where we can also relax and have everything we need close by. Suzhou Insdustrial Park fit our needs and desires very well.

Since one of the things we value most in life is developing international relationships, speaking foreign languages, or using Chinese or English as a second language to discuss and solve problems, and exchanging cultures and ideas with people around the world, we have found that the population of SIP suits us. It is very international here. In the building where we live, there are several different nationalities and the neighbors are very friendly.

One of the businesses we adore in the park is Shen Musical Instruments in the Pilot Free Trade Area. Sam Shen sends his finely crafted instruments overseas primarily to the USA, where thousands of schools get to enjoy the benefit of his craft. Mr. Shen told me he has sent over 40,000 double-basses to orchestras there over the years! We love his instruments so much that we have purchased two double-basses, a viola and a world-class violin bow from him. Mr. Shen’s work is known overseas as very high quality, with totally reliable workmanship which has a reputation so high that he does not need to do any special marketing to have a very profitable business selling his instruments there.

We have become well acquainted with Suyihui Art Gallery, enjoying its exhibits and performances, and have also been able to share our love of music through several concert events in their space. The owners have worked hard to learn Chinese and integrate into the local community, bringing art and music to life to residents, young and old alike.

https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/2po-L60u1sZgWPMGOH4cPw

Through the Album of Suzhou, we got to know the lovely Zhang Youjie, a great translator, artist and cultural liaison who also lives in SIP. We have cooperated with her on several projects to bring the music of China and Europe together, with her talent in speaking and playing the qin. Also through Zhang Youjie, we got to know Cao Xiaojiao, Founder of the SuZhou LeQinShu Traditional Culture Studio, where we sometimes meet to prepare performances and collaborate.

张有杰Yang Youjie, (Sophia)

East-west collaboration at Suyihui Art Gallery

A few years ago we got interested in Toastmasters, so we decided to join the C_Life E+1 speaking club. We enjoyed many great meetings, cultural sharing events and special times together with so many friends while improving our speaking and leadership skills. We definitely recommend joining Toastmasters in SIP if someone wants to improve their confidence and get more experience in speaking and leading.

We find that it is wonderful to be able to walk to many glamourous, high-tech spaces from home, such as over the Rainbow Bridge on the way to Suzhou Center Mall, or to Suzhou Culture and Arts Center, and Times Square with its world-record overhead digital screen. We especially love to check the wind on Jinjihu from our apartment’s sweeping view, and if the wind looks promising, jump on our bikes and within a few minutes be at Baqi Sailing Club. What a fantastic life, that we can get out on a boat to enjoy nature through the power of wind and water within a few meters of home.

Safety is something we all need in our lives, to be at ease when we are out and about, and we definitely feel very safe in SIP. We are able to access high quality health and dental care when we need it and know that here we have friendly police looking out for people. One time, when my chain came off my bike and I didn’t have any tools with me (nor gloves), an officer stopped by and put it back on for me. I was really grateful and relieved to have his assistance! I love having the Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic as well as an international clinic within a few kilometers. The doctors in both places are very kind and professional.

Although we live in the middle of a high-tech, ultra-modern and efficient city, I appreciate being able to enjoy a lot of nature right here in SIP. When I go out for a walk, I love it that I see the four seasons through the lens of nature, with flowers, birds, water and a huge range of green plants and trees.

Another lovely destination we enjoy from time to time is Baitang Arboretum, with its wide variety of trees, plants, flowers and wild birds which inhabit it. When we want a quiet stroll away from the road, we love to roam around inside Baitang.

Xietang Ancient Town is also a place we discovered in SIP while on a long walk—we suddenly happened to come across it on a lonely day when we were really tired after strolling for about five miles. There we found a quaint and relaxing teahouse where the inside was set up with an outdoor area where you can relax and chat, have snacks and while away the time with refreshing, delicious tea.

Also, I feel impressed by the attitude of the SIP government, that local officials are making an effort to learn to speak better English with foreign residents in order to create a welcoming environment. Even volunteers during the pandemic seemed patient and willing to help us when we did not understand something, or the rules and regulations changed. We always felt that the volunteers doing the virus throat swab testing here were very patient and kind toward the international community around us. Although the whole world has had its ups and downs dealing with the pandemic over the past few years, in general we feel incredibly grateful for the effort of the community and government officials in SIP doing their best to help people to remain safe and as healthy as possible.

On my first trip to China in 1993, the concept of SIP had not yet emerged into reality from anyone’s imagination. Although I have lived in China for fourteen years up to now, I have spent the most recent four years in Suzhou, and no other city compares with the overall experience of life in SIP.

2023.06.19 

四年多前,我和丈夫从德国的Böblingen搬到了苏州工业园区(SIP),当时他接受了在常熟工作的新职位。一到达,我们很快在凌珑湾花园小区找到了一套明亮的高层公寓。位于SIPStar Regal物业管理公司帮助我们找到了这个地方,他们在帮助外国客户找到合适住所方面拥有丰富的经验。我们喜欢湾景花园的地理位置和便利设施,比如附近有一家提供国际食品的超市、餐厅和一家欧式面包店,步行即可到达。 

虽然我们俩都在SIP以外工作,但我们故意选择在这里生活,因为这里的生活质量很高,我们可以在SIP尽情享受我们喜爱的许多活动,比如帆船、与国际友人演奏室内乐,以及在有空闲时间时参加文化活动。我们早早决定最好生活在一个可以轻松放松并且周边设施齐全的地方。苏州工业园区非常符合我们的需求和愿望。 

由于我们最看重的生活价值之一是发展国际关系、使用外语(包括中文和英文)交流与解决问题,以及与世界各地的人交流文化和思想,我们发现SIP的人口很适合我们。这里非常国际化。在我们居住的楼里,有多个不同国籍的人,邻居们非常友好。 

园区内的Shen乐器店是我们非常喜欢的一家企业,它位于自贸试验区。Shen先生主要将他精心制作的乐器出口到美国,供成千上万所学校使用。Shen先生告诉我,他多年来已经向美国的乐团发送了超过40,000个低音提琴!我们非常喜欢他的乐器,我们从他那里购买了两把低音提琴、一把中提琴和一支世界级的小提琴弓。Shen先生的作品在海外以高品质和可靠的工艺而闻名,他无需进行任何特别的营销即可在那里销售他的乐器并获得可观的利润。 

我们非常熟悉苏艺汇艺术画廊,喜欢他们的展览和表演,我们也通过几场音乐会在他们的空间中分享我们对音乐的热爱。业主们努力学习中文并融入当地社区,给居民们,无论老幼,带来了艺术和音乐的生活。 

通过《苏州相册》我们认识了可爱的张幼杰,她是一位出色的翻译家、艺术家和文化交流专员,也住在SIP。我们与她合作过几个项目,将中国和欧洲的音乐结合起来,她擅长用中文和英文交流,并演奏琴。通过张幼杰,我们还认识了苏州乐琴书传统文化工作室的创始人曹晓娇,我们有时在那里会面准备演出和合作。 

几年前,我们对Toastmasters产生了兴趣,所以我们决定加入C_Life E+1演讲俱乐部。我们参加了许多精彩的会议、文化分享活动和一起度过的特殊时刻,不仅提升了我们的演讲和领导能力,而且结交了很多朋友。我们强烈推荐在SIP加入Toastmasters,如果有人想提高自信并获得更多演讲和领导经验。 

我们发现从家里可以步行到许多光彩照人的高科技场所,比如通过彩虹桥前往苏州中心购物中心,或者前往苏州文化艺术中心和拥有世界纪录的顶置数字屏幕的时代广场。我们尤其喜欢从我们公寓的广阔视野中查看金鸡湖的风情,如果风势看起来不错,我们就骑上自行车,几分钟内就可以到达八旗帆船俱乐部。真是太棒了,我们可以乘船在几米之内感受到风和水的自然力量。 

安全对我们每个人来说都是必需的,当我们外出时,能够安心无虞是很重要的,而在SIP我们绝对感到非常安全。当我们需要时,我们可以获得高质量的医疗和牙科护理,并且知道这里有友好的警察为我们提供保护。有一次,当我的自行车链掉了下来,我没有带任何工具(也没有手套),一名警官路过并帮我把它重新装好。我非常感激和安心得到了他的帮助!我喜欢附近有传统中医诊所和国际诊所,距离只有几公里。这两个地方的医生非常友善和专业。 

虽然我们生活在一个高科技、超现代和高效的城市中,但我很喜欢在SIP这里能够享受到很多大自然的乐趣。当我出去散步时,我喜欢透过大自然的视角看到四季的变化,欣赏花朵、鸟类、水和各种各样的绿色植物和树木。 

我们偶尔也会去白塘植物园,那里有各种各样的树木、植物、花卉和野生鸟类。当我们想要远离公路安静散步时,我们喜欢在白塘里闲逛。 

谢塘古镇也是我们在SIP偶然发现的地方,当时我们正在漫长的步行中,经过约五英里后我们突然发现了它。在那里,我们找到了一家古色古香、轻松宜人的茶馆,里面有一个室外区域,你可以在那里放松聊天,品尝小吃,享受清新美味的茶。 

此外,我对SIP政府的态度印象深刻,当地官员努力学习与外国居民更好地沟通,以创造一个友好的环境。即使在疫情期间,志愿者们似乎也很有耐心,愿意在我们不理解某些事情或规则变化时给予帮助。我们一直感到在这里进行病毒咽拭子检测的志愿者非常有耐心和善良,对我们周围的国际社区非常友好。尽管过去几年全世界都经历了与疫情相关的起伏,但总的来说,我们对SIP社区和政府官员在尽力帮助人们保持安全和尽可能健康方面的努力感到非常感激。 

我在1993年首次来中国时,SIP的概念还没有从任何人的想象中变为现实。虽然我在中国已经生活了十四年,但我最近的四年在苏州度过,没有其他城市可以与在SIP的整体生活体验相比较。 

 

2 Replies to “Living the high-life in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)”

  1. Your essay makes the reader want to visit such a lovely and interesting place. I especially enjoyed this line. “What a fantastic life, that we can get out on a boat to enjoy nature through the power of wind and water within a few meters of home.” I know you make beautiful music. I’m so happy that your life still includes that pleasure, not only for you but for your listeners.

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