Sep 30, 2010

Journey to the Middle Kingdom: Suzhou

After 3 days in the World Expo site, I'm ready for a less crowded China. Suzhou is one of the many peripheral cities of Shanghai and is famed for its Chinese Gardens, adored by the old-time scholars from dynasty to dynasty. Suzhou sees herself in various literary works like Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber and a dilapidated poet's famous verse (in order not to exhibit my inferior Chinese mastery I will not provide a translation):
Anyway, Suzhou has a combination of great gardens, less crowded public spaces and picturesque landscape - which in socialist China adds up to some degree of shunning and adoration from the people.

Taking the train there - socialism dictates there would be no "economy class" or "first class", rather, we have "hard seats", "soft seats" etc. This is hard seat. It's a good thing I'm in here only for 2 hours.

QuZheng Garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

An exemplary work of Chinese landscaping. Lotus ponds blossoming for summer.

We Chinese love geometrics, that's why we're good in math.

This is the famous poem describing the melancholic poet riding his sampan down the river overseeing HanShan Temple.

The river he sailed eastwards (all rivers in China flows east).

HanShan Temple, infiltrated by superstition and us Chinese.

 Next we visited HuQiu or Tiger Mountain. Which this Leaning Tower of the East is based. This tower is approximately 1000 years old, and still standing naturally despite the 4 degree slant.

Again, parks and gardens in HuQiu

Sword-practising pond - imagine Shaolin-style kung fu masters practising their fencing (and wall climbing) skills here a millennium ago.

 Suzhou Museum is designed by I. M. Pei, same architect as the Louvre.

 Loved the geomancy and clean zen feel.

A Chinese scholar in olden times is not unlike the English baron or lords. Here's an example of their taste and style. All with a very zen feel.

 A window.