Thursday, September 30, 2010

Suzhou Postcard Day 14 Humble Administrator's Garden Part 1

Hello Thursday! Let's continue with Day 14 of our China trip and escape to Suzhou! I took so many pictures it was hard to choose so am splitting them into 2 posts.

We were excited to visit Suzhou, well known for its gardens we chose the biggest one, Humble Administrator's Garden at 52,000 square meters (12.85 acres). After a 30 minute train ride from Shanghai we arrived at the bus station. There was construction so routes were detoured, tour guides surrounded us selling tickets but we ignored them. Two kind strangers later directed us to cross the river to the main road where bus #2 stopped at the garden. Each ticket cost 70 RMB ($10 Canadian) but what a sight that greeted us below! A most magnificent looking pavilion with a sweeping roof, I like its moon shaped entrance.
I came across the sight and was instantly reminded of Dr Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden in Vancouver Chinatown, this was not surprising as 52 master craftsmen from Suzhou helped build it in 1985. Both Suzhou and Vancouver sites are Chinese classical gardens, its design is based on the balance of rock, water, plants and architecture. The combined effect is intended to entice visitors to mingle with nature and relax. In just a few minutes of exploring the area, we felt completely at ease.
Below a central pond filled with lotus, a symbol of purity. There were no blossoms in sight, but can you imagine the whole lake packed with those elegant pink flowers?
On the side of the same pond, an art student was working en plein air, her colors were very vibrant. I would have liked to stay and paint as well.
In Chinese gardens, the water is intentionally cloudy to show off the surrounding reflections. I was amazed I could see the tiny pretty details of the leaves.
Off to the side, a long walkway where locals lingered to enjoy the calming atmosphere.
One of several lattice windows on the walls of the walkway, there were several designs and shapes but the one below illuminated by the gleaming bamboo was my favorite.
On the floor a potpourri of texture, the checked pattern contrasted nicely with the surrounding straight lines. The tile covering the drain in the middle of the photo caught my eye, it has a round Chinese coin design.
Covering another drain, a close up of this sweet looking tile, a flower whose center and 5 petals functioned as holes.
Below a very decorative pavement! More blooms made of beige and black colored pebbles amongst neatly lined dark brown stones, I was impressed with the attention to detail.
We came across this part of the garden filled with locals, they sat chatting amicably with one another on stone chairs and tables.
A much quieter side of the yard, I stood admiring the intricate design of the wooden framework for the fence and windows.
There were numerous halls in the garden which showcased hardwood furniture, china collections, paintings, embroidery, etc. In this room by the window, a Chinese musical instrument called a Guzheng. I stood imagining its wondrous sound as it spilled through the latticed windows into the surrounding greenery.
Another dreamy notion came to mind as I gazed at this tranquil view, devouring some delicious dim sum while sipping some of the finest Chinese tea.
One of the smallest ponds in a quiet corner adorned with some banana plants. We stayed a while for a rest before wandering through the rest of the garden. More on our China journey next week!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Busy busy Bee

It's been quiet on the blog as I have been away last couple of weeks. Our road trip home took longer than expected due to car problems, I ran out of scheduled posts! Many apologies for this! I am at the moment preparing a China post later this week... so stay tuned!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Church Windows and Sidewalk

The old church, its windows a repeated accent against the rich brick walls. A few steps away, the sidewalk a metal embellishment, the pattern a lovely compliment to the classic architecture.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

China Journal Day 14 Shanghai Train Station

Welcome to the weekly edition of China series! Today we continue with Day 14 of our journey. We arrived at the Shanghai Railway Station, the building was a lot bigger than we thought, it was gigantic!We walked closer to the entrance and saw many people had already arrived. It was very crowded by the ticket counter but we found the line up for Suzhou, each ticket cost 26 RMB (about $4 Canadian). The next available train was not until 12:10 PM, we had over an hour of free time so we decided to explore around the station.
There was a lot of people waiting around just like us. The platform with the cartoon character was especially popular, numerous individuals sat on the steps. I was curious as to where all of them were going.
Pictured below, more people sat around the other side of the platform. Seating ran out so others decided to squat. We were surprised to find such a crowd at the railway station, it must be crazy during peak travel seasons and holidays.
A short ways away, many more were crouched down. The ones below looked like migrant workers, some had brought straw mats and sat relaxed, visiting with their company. Others decided to use their luggage as seats, the yellow colored ones were very common.
Nearby a group of women gathered, more cheery colored sacks were used as stools, I could not help but wonder what were in those bags?
There was quite a few families with young children, but this little girl with the red poms poms in her hair was the most adorable of them all.
As we watched the people around us, little did we know we were also being observed. The fellow by the golden bag pictured below was noticing our every move. I did not see him until the stylish lady in the white pants walked by. After a few more minutes of scrutinizing stare he got up and left.
A lone traveller, his belongings hung from a stick on his shoulders, was he going home?
The stuff in the checked sacks must be very heavy, the man on the right bent over quite a ways to support the load on his back.
Baggage was not the only carry on item, these workers were transporting a compressor as well as a pile of buckets.
A drink, smoke and map shop in the corner of the railway station. Coca Cola was prominently displayed on the store sign in English and Chinese.
The loudspeaker announced it was time to head indoors to board the train. A last shot before putting the camera away, next week our China adventure continues!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Balcony Dahlia

One small pot on the balcony, the only garden we have. This year we tried dahlia, the ones here are white with a tinge of pink, a shade that caught my eye at the store.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shanghai Diary Day 14 The People's Square

Hello! Let's escape to China as we continue with Day 14 of our trip! We were on our way to the People's Square Subway Station en route to Suzhou. Pictured below the main road by our hotel, in the distance to the right, we could see the brown disc shaped building known as the Shanghai Museum. This was taken at about 10 in the morning, we stood on one of the numerous walkways and noticed the traffic was still bustling.On the other side of the walkway, the view of the 8 lane traffic. No pedestrian crossing was in sight, although the roads were clearly marked. I did not know what the Chinese characters said but thought this might be a good idea to direct traffic.
After a few minutes of walking we arrived at the People's Square. The atmosphere was peaceful and relaxing, I remembered all the benches were occupied, quite a few people were strolling by. I wondered if they had similar park activities like the ones in Xian?
We wandered around the park a bit and found the bus depot we briefly stopped at on our first night. Pictured below, another view of the public garden with the bus stops on the left.
The park was surrounded by uniquely shaped buildings, I do not know which companies built them but here are a few to share with you! The sharp angular structure on the left was a stark contrast to the rounder shaped one on the right.
The tall and grey tower was one we frequently passed by, a formidable shape, it stood tall and strong. To the left a much shorter column, its color the deepest of green. The windows on the upper levels were built slightly curved, it made the building looked as if it was reaching for the sky.
Picture below, a very sharp looking building on the left, I instantly thought of Transformers and imagined the structure converting itself into a shiny giant robot. Boy would the ground shake as it stomped across the park!

We found some very futuristic looking buildings that day, I wondered what inspired the architects?
On the edge of the park, a coin operated public washroom. Four unisex stalls in total, the doors unlocked when the correct amount of fare was received. It was equipped with an on site maintenance crew and extremely popular with the locals.
Also located at the park, a police station. It seemed friendly and approachable with the cutest looking patrol car parked out front. We saw a few of them in operation in Beijing Wangfujing and Xian bus station, they were very quiet, were they battery powered?
We spotted the sign for the Shanghai Metro, a letter M in a circle colored in red. The platform on the right gave way to stairs that led to the underground station.
It was very hot and humid at the basement tunnel, luckily for us the subway came in just a couple of minutes.
Next week our China escapade continues!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Flowers in May

A clean up of the hard drive led to the discovery of these flowers taken in May. A rambling rose by the fence, some cornflower amongst buttercups, irises glistening in the morning rain and some columbine in the loveliest pink.

The weather is cooler now, much like the temperature in May. A reminder that Fall will soon arrive.