It was Spring festival. The good news was, no volunteering work for 2 weeks (See https://justthinkingworld.wordpress.com), but the bad news was that most restaurants were closed and there was not much to do.
Luckily, there are so many relics that I could go visit.
So, after Tongli, I rested at home for a few days and then, decidedly bored, I set out impulsively, as usual, and this time I planned to go to three places in the same day. I know it seems kind of too much for a day. But I finally did it. Yay!
Despite knowing just the basics of Mandarin Chinese, I could use baidu, the Chinese map and taobao, and these two were my best friends during the organization of this trip.
So I went to 留园-Liu yuan, lingering garden first. Contrary to my belief that all places would be deserted, I found the garden full of people. We had to queue to get in. And once I got in, it was difficult to move about at my own pace. I am used to walking fast but here, I could not make one-step without encountering people. It was also hard to take photos of the beautiful landscape because of soo many people. However, the weather was very beautiful that day, which made taking photos a better experience.
Liu Yuan was exactly what I thought it would be and more. There were gardens, ponds, pavilions and halls. What I have noticed with all the classical gardens that I have visited here is that although they all look almost the same, they are all breathtakingly beautiful and enchanting.
SO after Liu Yuan, I made my way to 寒山寺-Han Shan Si, a famous Buddhist Temple. Once there, I could see a long queue to buy the tickets. I was relieved that I had already bought the ticket.
Despite the many people. the atmosphere was calm and refreshing. The bells are the first thing you hear when you enter the temple. I walked in and made my way towards the big Pagoda (that’s what I call it). I went in and prayed. But I did not see any bells.
I continued on walking aimlessly because I could see no sign anywhere. I thought that the visit was over and that there was only this to visit. I saw these bells but….
But then, I saw smoke and I could smell the fragrance of incense sticks. And, there I was, mesmerized… by the number of people.
I always thought that Chinese people did not pray to Gods, because they only prayed to their ancestors. I guess that one more of the stereotypes that I had heard about Chinese people has been proven false.
I was still hearing the bell ringing, and this time I finally saw it.
I quickly bought the ticket and went in the temple.
There were ponds and halls to visit but for me, these three places were what really caught my attention.
Now bye Han Shan Si and here I go to my last destination.
周整园- Zhou Zheng Yuan
Zhou Zheng Yuan- The Humble Administrator’s Garden is found near Ping Jiang Lu, an ancient town, where I have been so many times. It is considered by some to be the finest garden in all of southern China. It is also known as the ‘Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician’. Wang Xiancheng had a tumultuous life as a politician and he became humble after being accused of corruption and began to work on the garden (1)(2)
Here also, the place was packed. It was cumbersome to move about but it was a nice experience to know more about Chinese History.
I am now a fan of the ponds and lakes at these relics. Not only are they refreshing to the eyes, but also they make people like me look like good photographers!
The classical gardens may resemble each other in terms of structure and infrastructure but each place gives you a different feeling since the stories behind them are different.
Sources for more info: