August 30, 2009

 

One of the key cities in the Yangtze River Delta, Suzhou is a renowned cultural, historic and tourist city. The city is located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province , bordering Shanghai on the east, Zhejiang Province on the south, the Taihu Lake in the west and the Yangtze River in the north. The geographical coordinate of the city proper is at the northern latitude of 31 ° 19′ and East longitude of 120 ° 37′

Suzhou covers an area of 8,488 k㎡, of which the city proper covers 1,650 k㎡. Total population is 5.91 million, of which 2.17 million are in the city proper. Under its jurisdiction are Zhangjiagang City , 
Changshu City , Taicang City , Kunshan City, Wujiang City , Wuzhong District, Xiangcheng District,Pingjiang District, Canglang District, Jinchang District, and Suzhou Industrial Park , Suzhou New District and Huqiu District.In.

Situated at the temperate zone and with subtropical oceanic monsoon climate, Suzhou enjoys four distinct seasons, a mild temperature and abundant rainfall. The city spreads on a low terrain, with the plain covering 55% of the total area. With a network of rivers and canals as well as a fertile land, the city is rich in a variety of agricultural products. Major crops vary from rice to wheat, rape, cotton, mulberry, and fruit. Its specialties include Biluochun Tea, Dao Fish from Yangtze River , Silver Fish from Taihu Lake and Hairy Crabs from Yangchenhu Lake . As a well-known ” Land of Fish and Rice” as well as a “Silk Capital”,Suzhou enjoys a fame of ” Paradise on Earth”.
History
Written historical records indicate that Suzhou has a history of over 4000 years,which entitles the city one of “24 Cultural and Historic Cities ” approved as the first group of its kind by the State Council.
For thousands of years Suzhou has been a cradle of talented people.In ancient times Suzhou gave birth to many remarkable politicians, philosophers, strategists, scientists and artists, represented by Sun Wu ,Fan Zhongyan, Shen Kuo, Tang Ying, Gu Yanwu, Kuai Xiang. In modern times, prominent people from Suzhou emerge in large numbers in various fields. Suzhou’s painting, calligraphy, seal cutting, opera, medicine and architecture all have different schools and achievements. Its traditional handicrafts such as embroidery and Taohuawu woodcut picture enjoy a high reputation at home and abroad.
Built in 514B.C. with a history of more than 2,500  years, the city still stands at its original location in the Spring and Autumn Period. Well preserved are its double chessboard layout of “water and land in parallel, canal and street in neighbor, its network of rivers and canals composing three vertical, three horizontal and one ring, and its unique landscape of “small bridge, flowing water, white wall, black tile, cultural relics and classic gardens”. In today’s Suzhou there are 487 cultural relics under municipal-and-upper level protection, of which 15 are under state-level protection and 101 are under provincial protection. Over 60 classical gardens are well preserved and 9 of them are listed in the Catalog of World Cultural Heritage, namely, Humble Administrator’s Garden, Lingering Garden , Master-of-nets Garden, Mountain
Villa of Embracing Beauty, Surging Wave Pavilion, Lion Grove Garden , Garden of Cultivation , Garden of Couple’s Retreat, Garden of Retreat and Reflection. Other famous tourist attractions include Tiger Hill, Panmen Scenic Area,Shihu Lake , Lingyan Hill, Tianping Hill and Yushan Hill. Most scenic spots around the Taihu Lake are also in the city’s administrative areas. In addition, thousand-year-old towns like Zhou Zhuang, Tongli and Luzhi feature the waterside sceneries in the Yangtze River Delta. In 1998 Suzhou was awarded “Excellent Tourist City of China “.

Covering 51,950 sq.m, the Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest of all classical gardens in Suzhou . It is centered upon the broad expanse of a lake, making up about one fifth of the total area. With well spaced buildings, the garden landscape and waterscape are simple, extensive and natural, possessing the traditional appearances of the Ming Dynasty. It is divided into three parts; the eastern, middle and the western parts. The house lies in the south of the garden.
The middle part is the cream of the garden with marvellous mountains, clear water, exquisite buildings and exuberant trees and flower reminiscent of the scenery in the south of the Lower Yangtze . Lying here and there to the south of the lake are garden buildings and courts in cluster. On an east-west axis there’s the Hall of Drifting Fragrance in the middle, flanked by the Loquat Garden Court , the Malus Micromalus Makina court, the Poeny Pavilion, the Listening to the Sound of Rain Pavilion, the small canglang, “A Pure Mind Thinks Deep”, and the Magnolia Hall. Rising from the lake are the east and west hills made from a mixture of earth and rocks, and covered with trees. the Prunus Mume Pavilion and the Orange Pavilion stand atop of the hills.By the side of the lake there are forsythias gently stroking the surface of water, and bringing about delightful effects of nature. Much of the surprise comes from the disposition of the Fragrant Isle, the pavilion in lotus breezes and the Mountain-in-View Tower to the west of the lake.from the secluded pavilion of Firmiana Simplex and Bamboo one is able to catch sight of the pagoda of paying debts of gratitude in distance. The picturesque scene of the pagoda mirrored in water is an example of the garden technique called “borrowed view from afar”.

 

 

The buildings in the western part of the garden are properly arranged by the lake.To the south of the lake is a big mandarin duck’s hall with two halves. The northern half is named “the Hall of 36 pairs of mandarin ducks” and the southern half “the hall of 18 camellias “. Built to the west of the lake are the Inducalamus Pavilion, the “With Whom Shall I Sit”?pavilion,the Floating Green Tower, the Stay-and-Listen Pavilion, the Pagoda Reflection pavilion.Going up and down and in a zigzag, a unique veranda over the water is a structure built along the wall to the east of the lake. The Good-For-Both-Families Pavilion on the top of the hill overlooks the middle and western parts, another example of the garden technique called ” borrowed view from near”.

Decorated with the Cymbidium Virents Hall, the lotus pavilion, the Celestial Spring Pavilion, the Far Away Looking Pavilion and the All blue Pavilion, the eastern part of the garden has verdant hills with pine and bamboo , distant islands encircled by winding streams, and an extensive area of grass, flowers and trees.
Glowing out of the mud, lotus blooms still keep themselves pure and clean. The farther their smell drifts the purer it becomes. A good number of buildings in the garden are named after lotus blooms, often known as “a true person of the virtue “among flowers, such as the Hall of Drifting Fragrance, the Lotus Pavilion, the pavilion in the Lotus Breeze, and the Stay-and-Listen Pavilion, expressing the theme of the whole garden—-to be pure as lotus blooms.
Lying to the south of the garden is the house, which is the typical residence in Suzhou. On a north-south axis there are four successive buildings, namely the Sedan-Chair Hall, the Reception Hall and two two-storied buildings. To the east of the axis are the Mandarin Ducks’ Hall with flower-basket decoration, the Flower Hall and the Four -Sided Viewing Hall.
The Humble administrator’s Garden boasts altogether 48 different buildings, 101 parallel couplets and door plate aux, 40 stelae, 21 precious old trees, namely Wistaria, Sabina chincherinchee, pterocaulous stenophyllous, etc., falling into 13 different catalogues, and over 700 bonsai (potted landscape) kept in the Bonsai Garden in the western part of the garden, representing the Suzhou style bonsai, one of the four leading bonsai styles in china.

 

August 30, 2009

 

 

Grand Canal (between Hangzhou in the south and Beijing and Tianjin in the north) is largest ancient artificial waterway in the world and an engineering marvel on the scale of the Great Wall of China. Begun in 540 B.C. and completed in A.D. 1327, it is 1,107 miles long and has largely been dug by hand by a work force described as a “million people with teaspoons.”

The Grand Canal was created by connecting a series of smaller canals built in separate areas. It was constructed primarily to move troops from the north to south and transport food from the rich agricultural lands in the south to overpopulated cities and towns in the north. It was also built to allow merchants to avoid transporting their cargoes on the high seas where they were vulnerable to typhoons and pirates.

The Grand Canal extends from Tianjin in the north to Hangzhou in the south. It connects Beijing and Xian in the north with Shanghai in the south, and links four great rivers—the Yellow, the Yangtze, Huai and Qiantang. Water levels have been maintained through a system of stone gates which channel water in and out of the canals. When it is necessary to prevent flooding gates can be opened so that water can be diverted into lakes.

Construction of the canal has been done in a piecemeal fashion over the centuries, with new sections added and others abandoned and rebuilt. The bulk of the work was done during the Sui dynasty under the leadership of the ruthless emperor Yang Di, who put 5.5 million workers to work during a six year period, ending to 610 A.D. No one knows how may died digging the canals but it was probably in the tens of the thousands. During the height of the Tang dynasty, which followed the Sui Dynasty, long strings of barges carried 100,000 tons of grain a year from the rice fields in the south to the north.

Canal Cruise, as part of the Grand Canal, encircles the beautiful ancient Suzhou city. On the way, you can view and appreciate the ancient Suzhou city, well-designed Ouyuan, hundred-year-old Suzhou University, Baodai Bridge which is the longest linking-arch age-old bridge existing in China and other famous sceneries. The dimple of the river would give you the smell of water, the essence of Wu culture and the extraordinary charm of oriental water city .

August 30, 2009

  Tiger Hill is a hill in Suzhou. It is a popular tourist destination and is known for its natural beauty as well as historical sites. The hill is so named because it is said to look like a crouching tiger. Another legend states that a white tiger appeared on the hill to guard it following the burial of King Helü. The hill is sometimes referred to in parallel with “Lion Mountain”, another hill near Suzhou which clearly resembles a sitting lion.
The hill has been a tourist destination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as is evident from the poetry and calligraphy carved into rocks on the hill.

 

 

August 30, 2009

  Suzhou has long been a major producer of the finest silk in the world. Hence, it is nicknamed the Home of Silk. Silk produced here are of superior quality if you buy from government runs outlets. Tour to Suzhou will not be complete without a visit to silk museum / factory, there you can also learn about the process of making silk.  Dated back to 1926, the Suzhou Number 1 Silk Mill is a good place to visit.  There you can see the making of silk and the process of dividing raw silk from cocoons into strands horizontally and vertically, before weaving them together.