China
Shuangta

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    • Day26

      Gardens of Suzhou

      September 22, 2019 in China ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

      Last full day in China! It's certainly been busy, and action-packed. Another early start - of course - though at least today we had included breakfast downstairs. It was a bit average though, and we only learned on leaving the breakfast area that we'd chosen the Chinese breakfast area - on the other side of the building was a Western breakfast area complete with a waffle station. Damn.

      Next door to the station where we hopped on our early train to Suzhou, a city not far north-west of Shanghai. Here is the location of our last World Heritage Site for China (on this trip, we're still not even halfway through the full gamut of China's sites!): the Classical Gardens of Suzhou.

      In Ming and Qing era China, Suzhou was a very quiet and peaceful place where court officials and bureaucrats would retire, and having done so they would often take up gardening. There's now hundreds of these gardens across Suzhou, and about 10 of them are inscribed on the World Heritage list.

      We headed for the biggest and best known one, the Humble Administrator's Garden. The weather had improved but it was still drizzling on and off, so we were hopeful for a reasonable day. The gardens were quite nice - Chinese formal gardens, where it's essentially a series of imitated natural scenes. Rocks, pools, trees, pavilions, covered walkways and so on. If you've ever been to a Chinese style garden, it was likely inspired (or even directly copied) from this garden, or others in Suzhou. The overall effect is very nice, but it was incredibly crowded.

      I know that's been a running theme on this trip, but aside from Fanjingshan and the Forbidden City, I think this probably ranked 3rd in terms of crowding. You find yourself waiting endlessly for a photo opportunity, and even in quiet corners of the gardens you're surrounded by people. It's very draining, though I guess the locals don't mind because it's like that everywhere they go!

      After a nice but tiring couple of hours we headed outside and grabbed some street noodles. Caught a bus across the city to the Lingering Garden, which although busy was thankfully far less crowded. This was more focused on rock landscapes than the previous garden which had largely focused on pools. There was also a decent museum attached which clearly the locals weren't interested in - it was the quietest place we'd been in days! Though I got stung by some sort of insect on the way out, a large dragonfly sized thing. It landed on my left elbow and as I brushed it off it stung me which hurt like a bastard. The old man at first aid gave me some sort of anti-sting thing, but it still hurt for days afterward.

      Back outside where we had one last stop. We walked about two kilometres along a waterway from the Lingering Garden to see our final stop on the trip: the Grand Canal. We'd first seen it in Beijing, nearly four weeks ago, and here we were at nearly the far end of it, thousands of kilometres away. A nice metaphor for the trip I guess. The canal is much wider here, with ships plowing up and down the waterway. Unlike the spot in Beijing which was pretty much a storm drain. One of the world's greatest engineering works, and nobody knows about it. Odd.

      Another bus back to the station where we made our train back to Shanghai. Both feeling tired, footsore, over Chinese food and a little damp - we caved and had train station Maccas for dinner. Our last night in China and everything.
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      Trish Forrester

      Great one, you managed it without anyone there! Nice photo

      10/7/19Reply
      Trish Forrester

      The irony is that the gardens are supposed to be tranquil places but with so many people, they are anything but!

      10/7/19Reply
      Traveler

      That took about five minutes of waiting

      10/9/19Reply
      Trish Forrester

      It's a real calendar shot!

      10/11/19Reply
       
    • Day2

      Master of the Nets

      October 5, 2019 in China ⋅ ☁️ 68 °F

      Su Zhou was the capital of one of the seven ancient kingdoms of China. Ancient travelers said, “There is paradise, and beyond that there is Su Zhou.” Even though its kingdom was later incorporated into larger China, this small city of 10 million people became a paradise on earth for “The Humble Administrator,” “The Master of the Nets,” and other noblemen who built their palaces and gardens here. Glorious flowers, peaceful lakes, and remarkable monoliths grace these estates. Huge, abstract stone ornaments in gardens became fashionable simply because the stones were taken from the bottom of a lake considered the most beautiful in China. Their extraction before the days of mechanization was arduous, dangerous and expensive. Merely having one of these huge rocks in one’s garden testified to the wealth and status of the owner. The status of the city was further enhanced by the construction of the Grand Canal that extended from Shanghai all the way to Beijing. We took a boat ride along a portion of the canal and marveled at the many homes and temples from the sixteenth century that still overlook the waters. Following our boat ride on the canal, we enjoyed an elegant meal that featured not only familiar Chinese favorites, such as Kong Pao Chicken, and Sweet and Sour Pork, but also a new experience for me, silver needle fish. We finished the day visiting a silk factory. I got to touch young silk worms as they ate their dinner of mulberry leaves. We saw workers extract a 1.5 mile-long thread of silk from one cocoon. On display were colorful quilts, elegant silk prints, and beautiful silk clothing. A two-hour bus ride returned us to Shanghai in time for the laser sound and light show, bouncing intense colors from the gaudy facades of some of Asia’s tallest architectural wonders. The patriotic sounds of China’s military bands led a million marchers through the streets and along the Bund as Shanghai continues to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.Read more

      Traveler

      I bought silk from China after seeing the process !

      10/6/19Reply
       
    • Day8

      Suzhou to Hangzhou

      November 21, 2019 in China ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

      A morning wandering in the lingering garden is delightful! So tranquil ( once we left the group and wandered on our own). Then to the silk factory where I am entranced bb the silk foo as and pillows and the talk of health promoting properties so of course I buy the whole set and a LV scarf! Royce did not enjoy this part of the tour 😐. To the canals for a tour of the little houses built in the canals and the local markets. Frogs of all sizes, eels and half dead fish! A colorful and interesting look at life in Suzhou. We eat at a local restaurant - vegetable sandwich and tofu vegetables and noodles washed down with local beer. On the bus for the 2 hour drive to Hangzhou. The hotel is great again- huge bed , so comfortable and an enormous shopping mall across the road. Such rapid advancement in such a short time.Read more

    • Day1

      Impressions

      September 16, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

      I really couldn't say what I was expecting of China, other than an adventure into the unknown. However my first impressions are very positive. As with every positive cultural experience, it begins with the people. I certainly stand out - I haven't seen another Westerner in days, and I get a lot of glances. But despite this, I mostly see curiosity. And when called upon, the people have been notably kind and helpful (and the children unbelievably friendly! ) . It probably goes without saying that the food is great though.Read more

    • Day14

      Week 2

      September 29, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

      A short update this week, as I have been mostly been getting into the swing of things at work, and further adapting to life here. National Day is fast approaching, a national holiday where the country celebrates the founding of People's Republic of China. During this time, many people get a week off work, and go travelling to different parts of China. It can be very busy in the big cities during this week, with lots of activities and festivities taking place. For this reason, I will likely remain in Suzhou, as there is still so much I haven't seen here.Read more

      Traveler

      Waiting on the next update mate 🙌🏾

      10/19/19Reply
       
    • Day4

      Suzhou

      August 12, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

      We travelled 30 minutes by train to get to Suzhou. The city's magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the stunning Grand Canal and dozens of classical gardens.
      We visited:

      - The Humble Administrator's Garden
      - Lion Grove Garden
      - Tiger Hill

      The gardens were really nice but crowded so we didn't enjoy them like we could.
      The Tiger Hill was better and the park was really quite. We had a nice stay there.
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    • Day10

      Suzhou

      July 14, 2017 in China ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

      Suzhou is een, voor Chinese begrippen, middelgrote stad met een lange gezellige winkelstraat. We hadden een hostel dat onderdeel is van een grote keten, wat als voordeel had dat we elke dag schone handdoeken kregen en ons vuilnisbakje ook dagelijks werd geleegd. Niet geheel onbelangrijk als je je w.c. papier in die prullenbak moet gooien. We wilden hier 2 nachten slapen, maar vonden het er zo fijn dat we er een extra nacht aan vast plakten. We vonden zelfs een wedstrijdbad waar we lekker af konden koelen en even wat konden sporten zonder ten onder te gaan aan de hitte. Ook bezochten we een groot park dat leek op een botanische tuin. Zo mooi! We hebben nog maar een heel klein gedeelte van deze stad gezien! Maar we kozen er nu voor om even gewoon te leven ipv alles te ontdekken.

      (We kunnen de foto's van onze camera niet overzetten sinds we in China zijn dus ik heb niet zoveel foto's)
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    • Day28

      Besuch einer Seidenspinnerei

      September 5, 2016 in China ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

      In China wurde von jeher Seide produziert. In einer Seidenspinnerei sehen wir die Entstehung der Seide von der Raupe an.

      Die Aufzucht der Raupen, Ernte der Cocoons, Gewinnen des Seidenfadens bis hin zum Weben der Seidenprodukte wird gezeigt.

      Natürlich haben wir am Ende dieser Ausstellung die Möglichkeit Seidenprodukte zu kaufen. Von Seidenbetten über Tischdecken bis hin zu Kleidung reicht die Palette dieser Firma.
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    • Day110

      Suzhou - Das Venedig des Ostens

      September 22, 2018 in China ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

      In the morning we took the bullet train to Suzhou. It is located only 80km away from Shanghai and famous for a lot of small canals. It is a kind of Venice in China. Close to the canals it was crowded with people, but all in all it was a great day trip.

      Am Morgen sind wir zu einem Tagesausflug nach Suzhou aufgebrochen. Suzhou gilt dank einer Vielzahl von Kanälen als das Venedig Chinas. Mit dem Schnellzug ist man auch in knapp 30 Minuten von Shanghai in Suzhou, leider dauerte die Fahrt durch Shanghai bis zum richtigen Bahnhof jedoch eine Stunde. Die Straßen entlang der Kanäle waren überfüllt mit Touristen, aber es war dennoch ein gelungener Tag. Suzhou ist zusätzlich noch bekannt für seine vielen Gärten, allerdings waren uns die Eintrittspreise hierfür viel zu hoch und die Schlangen viel zu lang. Generell muss man leider in China für nahezu alles Eintritt bezahlen, was die Freude am besichtigen immer etwas trübt.
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    • Day8

      繁华满眼过苏州

      April 13, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      十一年的时间,我来了四次苏州。倒不是说苏州有那么好,可每次来江浙一带,不去苏州又总觉得少点什么,好在吴中胜景数不胜数,每一次来都不用担心重复。

      不过话说回来,有些地方却值得一去再去,比如我最爱的留园。犹记得第一次和朋友来时,我们本以为走到了园子的尽头,过了一扇门后,才发现眼前又是豁然开朗的一片天地,这种因布局的巧妙而给人的意外感,恐怕就是“山重水复疑无路,柳暗花明又一村”所描述的情形吧。就是因为这点,后来的每一次苏州之行,我都一定会重访留园——好在我对园子的布局并没有烂熟于心,于是每一次穿过那扇门的瞬间,都还能重温当年激动的心情。

      年初的时候读了沈复的《浮生六记》,于是这次便把沧浪亭列到了游玩清单上。这座始建于宋、苏州现存最古老的园林,果然没有让我失望:因为名气不如拙政园、狮子林响亮,这里没有熙熙攘攘的团队游客,只有为数不多的散客和几个作画的画家,园子里竹林掩映,亭廊交错,假山与池水将园子隔为几个部分,每处都可以让人坐下来享受幽静。也只有在这种时刻,人才能够去细细品味古人造园所费的心思,何处宜看山,何处宜听雨,何处赏春花,何处品秋叶……无不充满了意趣和智慧。除了自然之景和这些精致的亭台楼阁,品读每一处的题字也是游园的一部分,风雅的名字,极富意韵的楹联,早已融为园林不可或缺的一部分。园林有别于花园,不正是因为其中的这些文人意趣吗?所以,游园而只会走马观花般地拍照,真是对这些文化遗产的亵渎呢。

      这次苏州行的另一个新的体验是在平江路坐了手摇船——之前来的三次都是穷学生的状态,所以对于坐40分钟船却要花180元的消费水平总是望而却步,这回终于可以完满一下了。坐在小船上穿行在河道上、古桥下,听着撑船的船夫唱着姑苏小调,两岸邻水的人家商铺鳞次栉比,这才算真正见识了古诗中所描绘的风景:”君到姑苏见,人家尽枕河。古宫闲地少,水港小桥多。”

      江南真美好啊,这么细腻,柔软,恬淡,难怪清代的皇帝没事就要下江南。我觉得自己再待下去,就快要后悔自己申请加入澳洲国籍的决定了……

      阖庐城外木兰舟,朝泛横塘暮虎丘。
      三万六千容易过,人生只合住苏州。
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Shuangta, 双塔

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