Saturday, June 21, 2014

China: Suzhou II

We welcomed June with a long weekend for Dragon Boat Festival (duānwǔ jié, 端午节).  While eating zongzi (trigonal pyramidal dumplings of glutinous rice with various fillings, wrapped in large leaves), watching dragon boat races, and listening to firecrackers, we found our way back to Suzhou, this time to the Humble Administrator's Garden (Zhōuzhèng yuán, 拙政园).  


Covering 12.5 acres, the Humble Administrator's Garden is Suzhou's biggest; it is considered one of the four most famous gardens in China. It finds its origins over 500 years ago in the Ming dynasty, with an official who retired from government service to garden, as befit a "humble" man. Water is central to the garden, which features a maze of pools and islands set around a large central lake.  In such a vast space, what we appreciated most were the little things -- the "forest" of over 700 potted, carefully cultivated bonzai trees; the flowers; the carved windows and framed entrance ways; the small details; the rare moments of quiet and solitude.  

Suzhou train station at night

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