Xuzhou, not to be confused with
‘Suzhou’ is a city in Jiangsu Province, China and was my home for four years. Although it’s not a place known for it’s beauty or famous landmarks, it does possess some stunning views and is a great place to live for both Chinese and Foreign people. For those who are not well versed in Chinese geography let me name two cities you might know such as NanJing which is approximately an hour train journey away and Shanghai which is approximately three hours away by train and less than one hour by plane.
Places of Interest in Xuzhou
YunLong Shan (YunLong Mountain) is a beautiful, yet small mountain which can be easily hiked by most. If you want to descend down the mountain in a more fun way, why not try the slide. Of course there is a small fee but it’s worth it.
YunLong Hu (YunLong Lake) is a very large man-made lake very close to the base of the mountain. At the lake you can visit the small man-made beach, take a boat ride or just wander around and enjoy the view.
BingMaYong (Terracotta Warriors) These are not of the same magnitude of the ones found in Xi’an but they are still famous and worth a visit if you have the time. The location is approximately an hour out of the city of Xuzhou.
Bars Bars Bars – Xuzhou Nightlife
Although the bars in Xuzhou tend to open and close fairly quickly, there are two in particular that continue to grow strong and are still drumming up business today.
The Hill Bar
(also known as GaoDi JiuBa by the locals)
The Hill Bar is located in an area called XiMaTai. You will have a field day trying to tell a taxi driver over and over again using a variety of different tones. So let me save you the trouble and go for a trusty method of slightly yelling and grunting it at the driver which he/she will understand immediately. It’s the Xuzhou way! The Bar is owned by a local man known as VJ by most people. This was the first bar I ever went to in China, let alone Xuzhou so I hold it dear in my heart. VJ who speaks English like a native, is a fun-loving and out-going guy who welcomes all with open arms to his bar. Although it is a small bar, it has a lot of spirit and is always bursting with both local and foreign customers. With a large range of alcohol and music, you are in for a good, cheap and possibly crazy night if the mood strikes.
(also known as LanQiangYu JiuBa)
Blue Marlin is located on Water Street (NanHuShuiJie) which is by YunLong lake mentioned above . It is a large two storey bar with outdoor seating, a full sized pool table and a live band every night. To make it even more inviting it has a Happy-Hour deal everyday from 5-8pm where all draft beer and cocktails are half price. My personal favourite is the Long Island Ice Tea which is served in a very big glass and is super strong, only costing 24yuan per glass. Bargain!
The food in Xuzhou is generally delicious with a hint of spice to it. The dishes are cheap and big so great for a family style dinner with friends. Be sure to add a few cases of beer to that dinner and you will have yourself a party.
Like most places, Xuzhou has its local food. The most local dishes are listed below and are not easily found in other cities in China or at least not prepared the same way with that same Xuzhou spice. Personally I am a huge fan of the third dish ‘DiGuoJi’ and highly recommend it.
- BaZiRou: this is a fatty pork chop stewed with vegetables and served with rice. A favourite among the locals.
- LuoMo: like a Chinese tortilla used for making wraps. Most commonly found at BBQ restaurants and street vendors.
- DiGuoJi: this is a large deep black pan/pot filled with a whole chopped chicken and vegetables with pancakes around the inside of the pan. This has been known as a favourite among the foreigners. I can certainly vouch for it.
The University of Mining and Technology
(also known as KuangDa DaXue)
I worked at the University for the entire four years that I lived there and loved it. The location of both campuses are great although I was based at the more convenient one closer to down town. Lots of cheap, local food surrounds the area and is constantly filled with Chinese students wondering around.
Xuzhou hua (meaning the local xuzhou dialect) is a fairly strong accent to understand. It comes across very grumpy and slightly aggressive at first but once you get to know some of the locals and their customs you realise its neither of those things. The locals are mostly very happy, friendly people who want to make friends with you.
Getting around Xuzhou
As Xuzhou is not a first or second tier city in China, the local people still use both bicycles, electric bikes and motorbikes as their primary source of transport. You will still find many buses, taxis and private cars of course. At any one time the roads will be full of all types of transport beeping their horns repeatedly in the hope the traffic will suddenly disappear. Trying to park your vehicle is quite the challenge as the space available is limited and full almost 24/7.
Xuzhou for me is truly a home away from home. I met my expat family there, grew into the person I am today and fell in love with China because of the amazing experiences I was lucky enough to have there. I 100% recommend a visit if you are in need of a good dose of China.