Sunday, March 31, 2013

苏州 , 周庄

I had an organized weekend excursion on March 22nd.  I chose to go to Suzhou 苏州, one of the major water towns (“oh, it’s population is just 10 million”) in China.  Less than two hours south-west of Shanghai, it was once a capital in the imperial age of China, and many sprawling gardens remain.  Suzhou is famous for its silk, though I bargained for a few polyester scarves instead.  Cheaper fabric, but still pretty.

We spent the day and night in Suzhou, then halfway back to Shanghai we stopped in Zhouzhuang周庄.  This town is known to be the most beautiful of water towns in China.  We took gondola rides on the canal and ate lots of the local food.
We wandered around the old town streets and shops.

The squishy red bean-based desserts at Suzhou were SO yummy. 
 The Suzhou Museum wasn't enormous but I love art, so I enjoyed it.  The newer section was actually designed by I.M. Pei, an acclaimed Chinese American architect.  He has also designed the J.F. Kennedy museum in Boston and The Louvre museum pyramids in Paris!  Also, he is 95 years old and still alive according to Wikipedia.  HUZZAH for Asian longevity!   
 The old side of the museum hailed back to the elegant dwellings of nobles.
 Vendors outside. 
 Artsy photo-op of Facundo in a round passageway.
Then we spent some time at the Lingering Garden, which was absolutely stunning.
 Friends on the trip!  There were about 30 of us.
 Here I am, standing amongst the distinct 'rockery.'
 This is supposed to be the tallest and best known natural rock formation.
 Matt and I, standing in front of what we think Huangshan/Yellow Mountain should have looked like! :)
 Bonsais!  Mind you, this is STILL the same garden.
Even the hotel had pagodas and a small garden.
When we had freetime at night to shop in Suzhou, we hung out with an extremely cute baby for a little while.

After parting from Suzhou, we went to Zhouzhuang.
 Mary and I at Zhouzhuang.
 A fisherman's boat of cormorant birds!  These birds are natural fishers, so when they dive into the water and catch something, the fisherman has a rope around their neck that's tight enough that they can't swallow.  But of course they allow the bird to eat their catch every now and then.  I'd like to think that some traditional ways are still utilized.
 Riding along on the canal, rocking back and forth on these sturdy gondolas.

This blog post was pretty lacking in substance because I’m in a rush for class again (what else is new), but I hope it was visually splendid!  Here’s to another week.. and April!   Hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend!

Listening:  The morning sounds of life in Putuo (my apartment’s district) ~ the simmering wok from the kitchen, boys always playing basketball, rattling Shanghainese, chirping birds, the flowing erhu and other traditional music playing for morning exercises. 


Allison said...

These pictures are absolutely stunning - it really looks like you're taking every opportunity to enjoy China in its fullest! Everything looks incredible, and I'm so amazed by the fabulous architecture and surroundings :) You look gorgeous and so happy, which makes me thrilled that you're enjoying it all. Thanks for posting, love! I owe you an email <3 xox

Jenny said...

I really like the rock formation.