There are few bridges as typical of China than the Wumen Qiao, crossing the moat at the south-western corner of Suzhou’s old town. Sadly, the neighbouring area – described in every guidebook – has been flattened in the last few months. Your chance to see the Wumen Qiao striding across the wide canal alongside the old waterside buildings has gone forever. Presumably something new and charming will spring up in its place but the authenticity will have disappeared. One day China will wake up and want to see its heritage and it will all have been replaced by kitsch and poor-quality reproductions. Quite frankly, I’m not particularly bothered: it’s not my heritage. I do my best to promote it and encourage responsible development, but its up to China and the Chinese people to make their decisions.
Despite the spectacular beauty of the Wumen Qiao, a horrendous group of black cables is strung obtrusively across the canal alongside.
All you can do now is walk across the bridge and imagine how beautiful it must have been just a few months ago, with both banks crowded with houses and people earning their livelihoods. Suzhou has, again, made a classic decision that is incrementally lessening the attraction of the city: why not just get rid of all the gardens and replace them with factories making ball-bearings and automobile wing-mirrors. Then you can finally get rid of all those pesky tourists and look just like any other Chinese small city.
Suzhou Industrial Park(Suzhou Gong Ye Yuan
In 1992, the idea of developing a modern industrial township with Singapore experience was broached. During his tour of southern China that year, China's late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping said: "Singapore enjoys good social order and is well managed. We should tap on their experience, and learn how to manage better than them."
After rounds of discussions and site surveys, both governments decided to join hands in developing a modern industrial park in the east of Suzhou. The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (CS-SIP) was thus born on Feb. 26, 1994 when Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed the Agreement on the Joint Development of Suzhou Industrial Park in Beijing.
Suzhou - Venice of the East
Suzhou (sometimes seen transliterated as Su-chow, Suchow, or Soochow) is one of the most famous cities in China. It lies in the lower reaches of the Yangtze and on the shores of lake Taihu in the province of Jiangsu.
"In heaven there is paradise, on earth there is Suzhou and Hangzhou." -- Chinese saying
"Zhouzheng Yuan - Humble Administrator's Garden"
Also known as Wangshiyuan, or Fisherman's Garden, is the smallest among the four most famous classic gardens in Suzhou, yet it is the most impressive, thanks to the architect who used its limited space smartly to create the illusion of a much larger area. Even more than the architectural achievement is the sense of tranquility and harmony that this humble garden embodies.
This exquisite garden was first built during the Song Dynasty (960 - 12794) as part of a residence, which was in use until the Taiping Rebellion took place in the 1860's. It later became the residence of a government official and was given its present name. It is said that by giving his garden such a name, he indicated that he would rather be a fisherman than a bureaucrat.
The garden is divided into three sections: the residential quarters, the central garden and the inner garden. Surrounding the big pond in the main garden, there are structures such as the Ribbon Washing Pavilion and the Pavilion of Moon and Wind Advent. As is commonly seen in Suzhou gardens, there is a small pavilion standing in the center of the pond, a bridge of less than one-foot wide linking it to the shore.
When you walk in the garden's corridors, through the windows, you often catch views of beautiful flowers or plants in distance. As a private mansion, the garden is obviously designed for the convenience of the family members and their guests. From any of its buildings, you can always find easy access to the main garden. The rooms, furnished in the Song-dynasty style, are quite impressive too.
The exquisite inner garden, recognized as the best preserved garden in Suzhou, has been copied as the Ming Hall Garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and miniaturized for an exhibit in the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1982.
For more info : http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/suzhou/humbleindex.htm
Photos courtesy of Ravindran THANIKAIMONI. All copyrights reserved 2005.