Venice of the East

Trip Start Apr 17, 2010
Trip End Jul 02, 2010

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Monday, June 28, 2010

I took the train to Suzhou, about an hour's ride. The Chinese rail system is very efficient. They even have uniformed rail attendants, similar to flight attendants.

I met my guide for the day, John. We visited two different gardens, The Humble Administrator's Garden and The Master of Nets Garden. The Humble Administrator's Garden is one of the four most famous gardens in China. It was divided into eastern, middle, and western parts. This large garden combined landscapes, waterscapes, and buildings to give the viewer a sense of things changing at every step. It also was reminiscent of canals at times.  

The Master of Nets Garden combined living quarters with the landscape garden. It was an urban garden, tucked away in the city. The central pond was surrounded by roofed walkways and pavilions. There were scenes beyond scenes, and gardens within gardens. It used illusion to make you feel as if the garden were larger than it was.

We also visited the Suzhou No. 1 Silk Factory. You got to walk through the entire process, from silkworm raising, silk reeling, weaving, and quilt making. There was also an exhibit explaining the historical development of the silk industry in Suzhou. I have to admit that I spent some money in the shops here!

We also looked at the Silk Embroidery Research Institute. There are only a few people, mostly women, who are the best in this craft. It takes good eyes, small fingers, and extreme patience to complete a work. Some of the women had recreated masterworks of art/painting. Incredible work!

John said we could fit in one more place, Tiger Hill. It was the burial place of the ruler of the Kingdom of Wu. He had the tomb built by 1,000 workers, who were executed on the site to keep the knowledge of the actual tomb sight unknown. They still do not know exactly where it is located! At the top of the hill, was another pagoda temple. It had developed a two-degree lean, so you could no longer climb to the top. It had been reinforced with concrete to control the lean. This site had an exceptional bonsai garden, some plants over 400 years old!

I took the train back to Shanghai. The evening was mine to do as I pleased. I wandered the pedestrian mall again and decided that pizza was what I wanted. I went to a local Pizza Hut. It sure tasted good! I had an interesting visit with a young couple next to me who had traveled from Catalan, Spain.

4 days remaining...all will be well...I will be fine!

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