Sunday, September 16, 2012

*R-rated! Tongli (9/16/2012)

(Parental warning: this blog is R-rated!)
Sunday, September 16, 2012
We had tried to go to Tongli yesterday, but when we tried to buy the bus tickets, they were sold out for the 8:30 am bus. So we bought tickets for the following day, today.
First, let me mention that the Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Centre is no longer at Gate #5 of Shanghai Stadium. Now it is across the street from Gate #5 and it is called the Shanghai Tour Bus Centre.
We boarded a bus marked Zhouzhuang, so we were a little worried except the driver happily took our tickets and placed us in the seats right behind the driver's seat. Checking all the little numbers on our ticket, we realized that it did say we boarded at Gate 1, and we were in seats 1 & 2.  And it did indicate we were on a bus to Zhouzhuang and Tongli. Tongli is about 10 km/6 miles farther than Zhouzhuang, but we were dropped off first.
The 130 RMB bus ticket included the entry ticket for the sites in Tongli. But it did not include the electric cart that takes you from the bus station to the entrance of the old town. We ended up walking, which helped us get our bearings, since the bus dropped us off at a new bus station, not the one marked on the map we printed out!
Tongli is a water town that shows how Suzhou looked as the "Venice of the East."
Once headed west on Xinchuan Dong Lu, we passed a couple places where degummed/boiled silkworm cocoons were drying:
Also passed a bakery with some interesting icing designs:
A KFC knockoff:
The first set of arches into the old town:
Qing Dynasty column toppers:
A local resident showed us a short-cut:
The former residence of Chen Qubing:
Chen was a founding member of the South Society, a literary society started in 1909.
The house appeared to be furnished as in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912):
The Nanyuan/South Garden Tea House:
Where the South Society would meet.
Local housing and garden plots:
Houseboat under the bridge:
A biking group in front of the second set of arches:
Sibenqiao/Reflecting Origin Bridge:
The oldest bridge in Tongli, built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Tongli has 49 bridges over 100 years old.
Kent on the Tai'an bridge:
By the time you read this warning, would you have time to duck?
Cleaning the bird cage:
Motor scooters are allowed on this bridge:
Many of the local women were busy peeling these lotus seeds:
Gengle Hall displayed root carvings of Zhang Zheng:
A detail from the above carving:
Gengle Hall was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Lisa L. likened this photo of Kent to a genie in a bottle:
View of carved windows:
Display of embroidery with an embroidered hat:
View of Huanxiu Hall, 2nd story covered corridor, and zigzag bridge:
Gourd-shaped window:
400-year old Pinus bungeana/Lacebark Pine:
Consecutive doorways:
Door handle:
Caught a man doing his business in a bush:
Fuguan Jie/Street with eateries along the canal:
The famous three bridges; here is Jiliqiao/Luck Bridge:
Changqingqiao/Lasting Celebration Bridge:
Taipingqiao/Peace Bridge:
If you walk in a sort of circle to cross all three bridges, you will have good health, prosperity, and a long life. This can be done on the occasion of your wedding or birthday, especially the 66th birthday.
An artist paints the scene:
A tourist rented this outfit for posing:
Jiayin Hall with a carved brick arch:
Jiayin Hall was built in 1922 in Ming Dynasty-style.
Detail of carved woodwork:
Carved window window:
Carved wooden marriage bed:
Tamiko on the balcony:
View from the waterside tower:
More carved windows:
The Gauze Hat Hall in Jiayin Hall is noted for its carved beams:
Kent caught a boatman on his mobile phone:
Not included in our Tongli ticket was the Sex Culture Museum. We had to fork out another 20RMB/$3 each to see this museum.
It is housed in a former girls' school with several large buildings and courtyard gardens:
This statue had a label about the only body part that could not be chained:
No photos inside the museum, but here are a few examples of the courtyard sculptures:
The Pearl Tower was an entire scenic area, and we were running out of time. In the end, we missed the Pearl Tower itself!'
Ancestral Temple prayer boards:
The ancestors:
A zigzag and covered corridor bridges:
A stone boat:
We read the Pearl Tower was on a rockery, so we thought this was it:
Celosia cristata/Cockscomb:
Finally we reached Tuisiyuan/Garden of Retreat and Reflection. This garden is considered one of the top gardens of Suzhou. Tongli is 18 km/11 miles from Suzhou.
The garden was designated a UNESCO World Historic Site in 2001. Constructed in 1885-1887, it is in a Qing Dynasty-style typical of the Jiangnan region of China.
Here we are "reflecting:"
A pavilion with no view?
Crowded stone boat:
The pavilion with the mirror is on the left:
The "Rain Brings Coolness" Pavilion's carved doors:
And its windows:
Tamiko climbs the "dangerous" steps up the rockery:
We had enough time to get back to the new bus station to get the 16:30 bus back to Shanghai. In fact, it was the same bus and driver. You are dropped off and picked up at the nice toilet building.
Traffic as we enter Shanghai proper:
Home again.

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