Tour of Suzhou City (04-Apr’09)

On the 3rd day, we continued our visit to another classical garden in Suzhou, 挫政园 (The Humble Administrator’s Garden) together. Ticket was sold at RMB50.00 per person. It’s also a guided tour, and in between the guide’s long poetic descriptions I heard bits and pieces of names like Wang Xiancheng, Hong Jun and Sai Jinhua (塞金花), which intrigues me to do some research on the story upon my return.

“Sai Jin Hua, born in 1872, became a prostitute at the age of 20. When she was 23 years old, she married a scholar Hong Jun. He did well in his exams and became a high ranking officer. Sai travelled to Russia, Germany, Australia and Holland with Hong Jun as the ambassador’s wife. Her wit and charm were legendary, and won the praises of the foreign diplomats she met. Then tragedy struck and Hong died. She was forced to leave his house. During this period, the Eight-Nation Army entered Beijing and Sai was forced to go back to the brothel. She became the lover of a German marshal and persuaded him to implement a peace treaty, once again demonstrating her legendary wit and charm. In 1903, she was arrested for torturing young prostitutes and imprisoned. She spent her old age in poverty and eventulally died in Beijing.”

Nothing mentioned about her relation with the garden, but it was said that the garden site was appropriated by Wang Xiancheng, an Imperial Envoy and Poet of the Ming Dynasty, from a recluse Tang Dynastry Scholar Lu Guimeng 陆龟蒙.

This time we didn’t manage to tour on our own, as by the time the guide finished her talk it’s already after 2pm and we haven’t yet had our lunch. The restaurants are all located outside the garden, so it’s either we continued our walk or go for lunch and once stepped out we cannot go in again. And due to raining, everyone decided to go have lunch instead. Well, isn’t strolling in the rain a good way to enjoy Spring?  Next time I know to bring along sandwiches and small snacks.

We had lunch at a Cantonese Restaurant located in the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (CS-SIP), which is a modern Industrial Park both Governments joined hands in developing in the East of Suzhou. Seeing the familiar banks and buildings we felt as if we were back in Singapore.

 

 

On the way, we came to a place called 金鸡湖(Jinji Lake aka Golden Rooster Lake) which is said to be bigger than the West Lake in Hangzhou 杭州西湖。We alighted from the car and strolled along the walkway taking photographs in the drizzle. Nothing much to see probably because it’s day time & raining, and also there were some constructions going on nearby. But was told there are performances with lasers and musical fountains on the lake every night. Seems the best time to visit is still in the night.

During the drive, we saw a lot of interesting road safety awareness slogan, which are like poems:

酒后驾车 Drinking and Driving

生命打折 Lives will be discounted

滴酒不沾 Be a teetotaller

出外平安 Safe journey going out

It was also Ching Ming Festival (Tomb-sweeping Day) on the day, just like the famous poem written by a Chinese poet of the late Tang Dynasty, Du Mu.

清明时节雨纷纷

路上行人欲断魂

借问酒家何处有

牧童遥指杏花村

A drizzling rain always fall on the Mourning Day

The mourner’s heart is feeling sad on his way.

Where can a wineshop be found to drown away his sorrows?

A cowherd points to the Apricot Flower (杏花) village in the distance.

And in China, highways cover all cities we visit and a toll is always charged. On this trip, I’d also learnt some famous Chinese sayings:-

  • 生在苏州 To be born in Suzhou (as it’s renowned for its beautiful women and educated citizens);
  • 吃在广州 eat in Guangzhou (for its culinary delicacies);
  • 穿在杭州 live in Hangzhou (for its natural beauty and scenery); and
  • 死在柳洲 die in Liuzhou, as the place is renowned for its 楠木nanmu wood which is used mostly in making Chinese antique furniture and coffins for its durability. Some tomb excavations in Jiangxi Province found 47 coffins made of nanmu wood that are reported to be about 2500 years old dating back to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty period. It slowed decay.

Here’s another one:-

  • 上有天堂Above there’s Heaven
  • 下有苏杭Below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou (which means Paradise on Earth)

Hope you enjoy reading my travelogue, and that it will help in your travels in some ways. I would definitely revisit all these places again, and explore more when opportunity arises.

Till the next write-up, stay tuned…

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