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Suzhou: China's laid-back capital

  • Author:Eva Rammeloo
  • Source:BBC
  • Release on:2016-04-25

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Image captionIn Suzhou, there are even rickshaws master leisurely moments. (Source: Eva Rammeloo)One of the world's most populous city life can be exhausting, which is why people are always looking to escape from Shanghai skyscrapers and crowded transportation methods.A popular destination in the city 100 kilometers west of this huge place - just minutes from the high-speed rail: it is the historic city of Suzhou.

Suzhou in 514 BC built by king lu, which is the oldest and the Yangtze River Delta, one of the most prosperous cities. North of Yangtze River, west of Taihu Lake, this location allows the city has abundant water resources, so as to form the city's famous canals and classical gardens.

The first batch of Suzhou gardens built in the 6th century BC, to its heyday (between mid ca. 1500-1700), Suzhou has a total of 800 multiple quiet garden. Garden design by the time of the literati, is a miniature version of the natural environment. 60 existing Suzhou gardens, where 9 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My first stop was the Humble Administrator's Garden is located in the northern part of the old town - this is the largest garden in Suzhou. The garden covers an area of ​​52,000 square meters, the Ming Shi, a poet Wang Xianchen built in the period from 1510 to 1516 after the return home. He hoped to find a place to spend their remaining years.

The entrance is tall doors into that intricate stone path, with access to over throughout the entire small pavilion rockery. Tourists sitting on a wooden chair in the pavilion, pavilion cornices shade just for them. Humble Administrator's center has several ponds, a small stream through between ponds, streams erecting beautiful bridges, many orange and silver fish swam.

Image captionThe beauty of Suzhou is a good place to draw inspiration for the artist (Source: Eva Rammeloo)

When I visited, there was at least 100 garden lovers trying to stay in the lush beauty of the drawing paper. Students of the art department with a sketch book and easel sitting in the alcove of the steps, or sitting on a big pond smooth stones. Most ponds are huge lotus leaf cover. Though slightly crowded, but beautiful.

After leaving the Humble Administrator's Garden, I went to the free Suzhou Garden Museum next door. This is a Ming Dynasty-style low-rise buildings, which the landscape is composed of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) intellectual elite hired artists design. During the past few hundred years, Suzhou, with its flourishing trade and handicraft workshop attracted a large number of elite gathered here, so the city has become synonymous with elegance and high culture.

At that time people believed that natural beauty helps bring people surprise intellectuals think. This means that the garden has become a basic requirement, so each residence in Suzhou have a little green space. Although the elite will compete to design complex landscape, but the people of the city will be in the bottom of the yard, plant some shrubs.

Chinese classical gardens and Western classical gardens are very different. According to Chinese view, the Europeans want to conquer nature, so the plants and shrubs planted in their designated area. The Chinese garden designers are seeking harmony between man and nature.

Image captionSuzhou leisure travel Chinese tourists. (Source: Eva Rammeloo)

This means that, although these shrubs, plants, trees and flowers appeared to be allowed to freely grow, but in fact it was orchestrated in the pavilion, ponds and bridge to reflect the Chinese people aesthetic balance and harmony. In this philosophical system, rockery played a particularly important role, it symbolizes the bridge between man and nature. Although the rockery is seemingly placed at random, but in fact it is specially well-arranged between the artificial garden path with natural elements (bushes, trees and waterfalls).

If you look at the landscape of the city's heyday, it is necessary to visit a small historic Old Town. Tranquil river on both sides of the Ming-style two-storey white houses, riverside willows have beautiful, interesting stone bridge, down the steps is the embankment. This Shanghai dazzling skyscrapers and traffic jams, the difference is clear enough.

Image captionVisitors can tour the Suzhou canal boat. (Source: Eva Rammeloo)

In many cases, the main road Pingjiang like a popular tourist attraction, where the vendors selling everything from waffles with chocolate sauce can to vivid Chinese fan. However, when I go to play, I sat in the traditional wooden boat drifting on the canal and did not find these things on a wooden vanity, boatman is a dirty old man, he looked a little anxious not received my money.

I decided at a restaurant called Shi Jian Huo Jian eat a simple meal for lunch, which is a provider of juicy dumplings simple restaurant located in Pingjiang and Sule Pagoda Road intersection. This delicious soup with meat buns including Shanghai and Suzhou Jiangnan region, including the classic food.

Image captionTraditional dumplings are a popular snack in Suzhou. (Source: Eva Rammeloo)

The last day I play attraction is the 7 km east of Jinji Lake, which many other lakes nearby bring cool air to the city.

Although the historic Old Town alley is narrow, but Jinji Lake landscape here has wide open. I meander along the lake lingering avenue walk wooden plank fell on ears only footsteps from the river and blowing scraps of voices. Occasionally to see the lake in the West Bank a few tourists riding a bicycle for two, three or rented bicycle. Separated by a layer of fog across the lake can still be seen and some of the high-rise next to the Ferris wheel. Boat bound for the artificial lake of the island. A little further, I heard a few old woman with a heavy accent in Suzhou conversation.

Image captionSuzhou waters surrounding urban space and bring serenity. (Source: Eva Rammeloo)

I feel relaxed. If you have more time, I might camp in Suzhou Taihu southwest or south to visit the famous Suzhou same town. But now I just stop listening to the birds and the sound of the oars slapping the water, before the hustle and bustle of Shanghai back to enjoy a moment of quiet.