Monday, June 07, 2010

The beautiful gardens of Suzhou

After having glimpses of Wuxi, the tour bus brought us to Suzhou. Travelling on buses for longer than an hour appears to be a fairly common thing to do in a large country like China. I have learnt to realise than a one-hour journey on the road is comparatively a short journey in China. Thanks to the great driving skills of the driver of the tour-bus, I began to enjoy having long distance rides on the bus.

While on the bus, our dear tour guided filled us in with anecdotes and interesting trivials of China's rich heritage and culture. I was particularly interested in most things related to history, culture and folklore.

The bus also stopped by the lifestyle zone of the Suzhou Industrial Park. The Suzhou Industry Park is a joint project between the China and Singapore government. The lifestyle zone happens to be where most of the residential facilities and the Science & Cultural Arts Centre are located. Somehow, the landscaping and architecture of the various structures in the Suzhou Industry Park did remind me of Singapore. For security reasons, tour groups like ourselves were not allowed to enter the industrial areas unless we have special permission.

Suzhou Industrial Park, located beside the Jinji Lake.

In the background, Science & Cultural Arts Center, Suzhou Industrial Park.

After the Suzhou Industrial Park, the tour bus brought us to Wangshi Garden (網師園). This garden is aong the finest gardens in China, and is recognised with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage site. I learnt that Suzhou is renowned for its meticulously designed gardens, and Wangshi Garden is a great example of one of such gardens. Such beautifully designed gardens in many ways reflect the refined tastes of the people of Suzhou. I could imagine myself feeling more relaxed if I could retreat to a beautifully designed garden at my own background everyday when I am at home.

I was told that Suzhou's climate is generally humid. As such, there are some interesting features that one can observe in the buildings in Suzhou. For example, the base of the pillars in Suzhou are often made of stone. Such a material like stone is more resistant to the wear-and-tear from the humid climate as compared to the commonly available wood. It seemed that wood tend to rot easily in a humid climate, and it can be a very challenging endeavour to replace the base of a wooden pillarif it were to rot.

In addition, ornaments made from marble stones appear to be more favoured compared to ornaments made from paper since the former tend to last longer in a humid climate.

Our next stop in Suzhou would be Hanshan Temple. If you have found this temple familiar, you may have heard about it from the poem by a Tang dynasty poet, Zhang Ji (张继). Please stay tuned for more.


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