SUZHOU: ZHUO ZHENG YUAN
Suzhou and its labyrinth of elaborate gardens is a popular getaway from Shanghai, easily connected by trains.
Zhuo Zheng Yuan or The Humble Administrator's Garden is the largest of all the gardens in Suzhou. It's a large and elaborate one, possible requiring you a good many hours to really explore the intricate beauty of the place. You don't get Chinese gardens done up in the Ming Dynasty (1400s-1600s) fashion any better than this.
Filled with sultry ponds decorated with lotus leaves and flowers, shy bridges over running riverlets, peony gardens in explosion - this is a place that could well mesmerised anyone who admires or loves Chinese architecture and the art of gardening.
Entry fee into the garden is 40RMB (circa 2002)
Panmen Gate - Part I
With the old neighbourhoods nearby encroaching on the one remaining city gate, this was one of the most atmospheric sites in the whole of China, with the nearby Wumen bridge creating the final touch in a classical urban landscape.
Now the gate and bridge stand isolated and orphaned, still attractive but sterile.
It is illuminating to read in the classic tour-guides script (“The Sights [sic] of China” by Zhu Qixin, that the section on the Panmen Gate contains just one sentence on the gate itself, and then a further 12 sentences on the ‘improvements’ [sic] to the surrounding area – tree planting, grass you are not allowed to walk on, flowerbeds, ponds created, the number of flower-pots installed (more than 30,000), the ticket sales office, and the interior decorating. There is no mention of the authentic buildings removed over the years, or the entire neighbourhood that has been razed in recent months.
Can I suggest that if the Panmen gate, the Ruiguang pagoda and the Keiyuan temple hall (the latter two not even mentioned in the guide book!!) were removed, there would be space for more than 8,000 more flowerpots?
Suzhou has it all
I was born in suzhou, jiangsu, China and lived there for most of my life time (18 years). I love my hometown very much and believe in its specialty.
Suzhou is a city of more than 2500 years of history and remains on its very original city site thanks to the city river that runs around it.
Suzhou is almost another term for "Jian Nan". "Jiang Nan" literally means south of Yangzi river, but actually means a very limited area of southern Jiangsu province and Nothern Zhejiang province. It is the most proseperous area in china since Song dynasty. Suzhou and Hangzhou is its heart. Now, Shanghai is the leader city and is better known to the world than Suzhou and Hangzhou.
Suzhou representing the "Wu" cluture has brewed a very delicate and somewhat feminist culture which shows in its unitque architecture, cusine, dialect, crafts, paintings, operas and "personality". Suzhou has it all, it is a very well rounded and complete culture entity. More importantly, the city and its culture is still vivid even today and I hope it will continue to flow far into the furture, into 3000, 4000 years.
A single street or a house in suzhou can have a long story to tell since Suzhou is so old and always be prosperous . I am trying to limit my list to reasonable long to fit for most tourism needs. Unlike the my other posts, many pictures I put on this post are collected from the internet instead of taken by myself. I've never taken serious photos for my hometown which is a pity. If I have chance to take digital pictures in suzhou, I will replace them with my own photos.