Saturday, July 2, 2011

Suzhou, Hot & Sweaty Day 1 (7/2/2011)

Saturday, July 2, 2011
Tried to pack light for a two-day trip to Suzhou. Used the Metro to get to the Shanghai Railway Station:
Took the 8:38 AM fast train:
Reached a top speed of 303kmh or 188mph.
Arrived in Suzhou in 30 minutes.
You could smell the society garlic along the walkway:
Suzhou is known as the "Venice of the East." Here is a gate on the city moat:
Sycamore trees and street lights on People's Avenue:
First view of the Beisi/North Temple pagoda:
Third century foundation and 13th century structure. At 76m/249' in height, it is the tallest pagoda south of the Yangtze River.
Lion trash can:
The pagoda behind a laughing Buddha:
One of the Heavenly Guardian Kings:
Tamiko made it only to the 5th story of the pagoda before seeing spots in front of her eyes. Kent and Brynne went to the top 9th story for views on the green ribbon of People's Avenue:
and a view southwest to the Lengjia Pagoda:
A view down onto the temple complex:
View through doorway:
Some temple details:
Lighting giant incense sticks:
The Suzhou Museum was designed by architect I. M. Pei:
I. M. Pei was born in Suzhou.
Lunch at a teahouse; here are the tea implements:
But we had cold drinks! And handmade veggie dumplings:
Dongbei Jie tourist street:
Too tall for a discount!
Suzhou has nine classical gardens. The largest garden is the Zhouzheng Yuan/Humble Administrator's Garden:
Established in 1513-1526, it is one of the four most famous gardens in China (the others being the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Imperial Summer Palace in Chengdu, and the Lingering Garden also in Suzhou). The Humble Administrator's Garden was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The eastern section has colorful flowers, a modern garden feature!
A shady grape arbor:
A "country" thatched roof theme:
Covered corridors:
A hollow tree trunk:
Brynne and Kent crossing into the central section:
Stone mosaic "knot:"
Stone boat:
Hall of Distant Fragrance:
The largest hall named for the perfume of the nearby lotus pond (the lotus were not in bloom yet).
A meteor?
The Little Flying Rainbow Bridge:
Feeding the koi from the bridge:
From the prow of the stone boat:
Wow, blue stained-glass - on Mandarin Duck Hall:
Mandarin Duck Hall is split into two equal rooms, the cooler north-facing chamber to be enjoyed in the summer, and the warmer south-facing one in the winter.
Trumpet vine:
Kent & Brynne in the bonsai garden:
Two-story pavilion atop an artificial hill:
View of Mandarin Duck Hall:
Picnic grove?
Rosa banksiae:
Wavy (up and down) Corridor:
Ha, ha, note the sweat. The temperature reached 100 degrees.
Posing red-eared slider:
Zigzag bridge:
Waterside viewing pavilion:
Orange Pavilion:
on a hillside of orange trees.
Secluded Pavilion of Firmiana Simplex and Bamboo:
View from the long-named pavilion:
"Borrowed scenery" borrows the Beisi Pagoda for this view:
This man is posing so that it appears he is holding the pagoda in his hand:
Another type of view - through lattice openings:
Taihu rocks:
Celestial spring:
Canal tour boats:
We almost skipped this garden, but what fun! The Shizi Lin/Lions Grove Garden is considered by some to be Suzhou's finest garden, dating back to 1342. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Screen painting:
A labyrinth of ornamental rocks! This was where the path circled under than over itself:
A legend says that two immortals came to visit and were unable to find their way out of the rockery, so they settled in a cave to play chess...
Central lake:
Back in the day of camera film, my traveling buddy Kathy C. insisted all photos must contain at least three items of interest:
1) Taihu rock, 2) bonsai, and 3) groundskeeper with bamboo broom.
Rockery grotto:
Token bridge photo:
General view:
Pavilion in the Heart of the Lake:
Taihu Rockery:
Stone Boat:
Lotus Flower Hall with hanging columns:
The columns are cut off near the ceiling and intricately carved.
Checked into the Hotel Soul to cool off.
Lighted room number:
Rockery shower:
After cold drinks at Costa Coffee, we continued on to the Xuanmiao Guan/Temple of Mystery:
Established in the third century, it is the largest wooden structure south of the Yangtze River.
Guanqian Street/pedestrian shopping street:
Pingjiang Street/restored "ancient" street:
Canal along Pingjiang Street:
After a bit of a search, found the Ou Yuan/Old Couple's Retreat Garden:
Upper corridor:
Lattice window:
Lattice screen:
Stone carving:
Courtyard corner garden:
Zigzag bridge:
Pavilion Amongst the Mountains and Water: 
Across the canal:
Lindun Street boutique:
Deyuelou Restaurant:
Squirrel-shaped fish:
The story is that an emperor saw a fish at a temple and decided he wanted to eat it. The imperial chef had to follow the orders of the emperor, but he was afraid of the wrath of the gods from cooking a temple fish. He cut slits in the skin, so that the meat puffed out when cooked. The mouth also opened and the tail stood up, making the fish look like a squirrel. The emperor was delighted and the gods were appeased.
Taijian Street - the food street:
Shopping at the bazaar, where hair extensions were popular:
We bought a pair of flipflops, because Tamiko's were falling apart. All day Kent thought she was mad because she was slapping her foot down, but it was because the toe-end had separated into layers. We were so surprised by the low price of $3, that we didn't bargain. However, we did bargain for the eyeglasses Brynne wanted, getting it from $3 to just over $2!

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