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Gardens and Temples in Suzhou

Last updated by Simon at 2008/4/20; Destinations:

When one thinks of China, certain images pop into the head. Suzhou is one of those images-elegant gardens, charming water village, kinds of stuff you see in books, brochures.so to Suzhou, we went.

After some lunch at our hotel, we walked to the Master of the Nets garden (Wangshi Yuan), which is one of the smaller gardens but supposedly one of the best as well. It was an interesting garden because it seemingly mixed a traditional garden with a residence and it was nice. The garden centers on a pond surrounded by buildings, including a Pavilion for the Advent of the Moon and Wind and a Ribbon-Washing Pavilion. It is one of the four Suzhou gardens listed by Unesco. Next took a taxi to the Humble Administrators garden (Zhuozheng Yuan), which is considered by many to be second to the Nets garden. It is the largest private in Suzhou. It?ˉs a more traditional "outdoors" garden with streams, ponds, bridges, and islands of bamboo forests. It was constructed in the 1500s in the Ming Dyansty. it is quite large, and affords you the ability to walk and stroll around for an hour or so. The layout, natural and unsophisticated, is a manifestation of the Ming Dynasty landscape art. Afterwards, we walked to the Lions garden, which is interesting because it?ˉs a traditional garden but they designed it in conjunction with a labyrinth of man-made stone hills and walk-through caves, so you end up traversing the entire garden but in a twisting, ducking, round-about manner that makes the experience more fun than your usual garden outing.

We then wandered into the Hanshan Temple. The temple is located right on the Grand Canal. The temple was said to be named after a monk who once in charge of it during the Tang Dynasty. The temple with its dark roof tiles and yellow walls can be seen very clearly amongst the surrounding pine and cypress trees. The main buildings and towers of the Temple complex offer a good view of the area. the temple became known mainly for a famous poem?"Anchorage by the Maple Bridge" written by a prestigious Tang poet-Zhangji. The lyric poem goes: The Moon is down, the raven calls, the cold frost fills the sky. Off Maple Bridge, with the sleepless eyes I watch the fishing light. From far Cold Mountain near Gusu Town(suzhou)as midnight passes by. The chiming of a temple bell comes to my boat tonight. We saw many Chinese bought the tickets to ring the bell in the Bell Tower as this practice is said to bring good luck.

The next day, we took a local bus to Zhouzhuang-a famous water village in china. Our guide book said that it was a must-see place for all visitors to Suzho. Crisscrossed by rivers and canals, the town is widely known as the Venice of the Orient, and is believed to be the jewel in china's water town crown.

The town is very small, surrounded by rivers and canals on all sides. We boarded on a man-powered tour boat and saw winding water lanes, arched stone bridges, wooden boat rowing and well-preserved ancient buildings. Our favorite of Zhouzhuang was mansion of Shen Family. The complex is located near the Fu'an Bridge. It covers an area of 2,000 square meters and consists of more than 100 beautifully-decorated rooms. All rooms are equipped with elegant classical furniture and connected with arcades and towered gateways. We spend a whole day in Zhouzhuang wandering, eating and jumped to local bus for suzhou in the late afternoon.

We ended our suzhou tour with a few hours visiting the Silk Museum. Suzhou is the center of silk production. The suzhou Silk museum displays unearthed silk fabrics over history, best products from other parts of the country and tools and machines recording the whole process of the silk production. What impressed us most was the"Weaving Room" and the " Seri-culture House" where we watched real live silkworms at work.