70 million years ago a meteor hit China 100km west of where the world’s largest city would be.
It filled with water, got connected to Beijing by the world’s longest man-made canal and then pumped almost entirely full of the byproducts of industrial progress.
Tai Lake is a huge, almost superlatively huge with the promise of lazy islands, expanses of water and country life… and a surrounding population of 30 million people.
The approach from Suzhou is 40km of straight, suburban roads and towering malls. Light industry kicks in before reaching the lake and becomes almost steampunk wild-west through a barren and dusty town. We popped out onto the water’s edge next to a huge, static waterwheel.
Along the side of the lake and things take a turn for the better. We slipped around to the shoulder-less and slightly hairy bridges and burst onto the XiShan island with a wild huger.
After rolling the island’s mostly flat circumference, we hit gold and thanks to a very well-connected member of the group managed to get up the normally foot-traffic-only Xishan Mountain for some wonderful views across the water and empty rolling twists through the tea groves.
Here’s the route we took from Suzhou, around XiShan island and off to our Resort hotel for a much needed dip in the hot springs.