Subcribe to our RSS feeds Join Us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Add to Circles

Thursday, February 27, 2014

PINGYAO -THE CHINESE BANKS - A MAJOR ATTRACTION IN CHINA


A banker in middle age Pingyao. Pingyao offers a wonderful experience back in time.

(Continues from PINGYAO - A MEDIEVAL TOWN IN THE HEART OF CHINA)

Pingyao is on the railway line connecting Beijing to Xian, although not all the trains stop in Pingyao and the ones who do stop are usually fully booked well an advance.

Pingyao is an historic town in China famous for its wonderful medieval walls and for its historic banks and courtyards (Read more about Pingyao history on PINGYAO - A MEDIEVAL TOWN IN THE HEART OF CHINA #1 and PINGYAO - A MEDIEVAL TOWN IN THE HEART OF CHINA #2)

Pingyao grew and prospered as a financial centre in medieval times and everything left today of any importance in the town is related to  that time and those vocation.

Pingyao prospered as a trade centre for its position half way to many economically active towns in China and if you are visiting China you should be absolutely sure not miss a visit to Pingyao.
You will never forget this town in your life!

The beautiful facades of the typical Chinese buildings in the old town of Pingyao are the entrance to wonderful and elegant houses and offices, with richly decorated courtyards and rooms: they were the first medieval banks of the Chinese history.

This is the main and most unique attraction in Pingyao.

In this post, below, we are going to explore this wonderful courtyards and buildings so famous in Pingyao and in China.



A typical entrance to a Chinese medieval bank in Pingyao.

A wonderful courtyard of one of the many banks in Pingyao. 

One of the many parades in Pingyao remembering the times when the town was one of the richest in China.


Ri Scheng Chang Bank

Ri Scheng Chang Bank was one of the most important banks in Pingyao and in China till it declines when Shanghai and Hong Kong took over as financial centres in China.

With a cumulative ticket you can visit the historic offices of Ri Scheng Chang Bank in Pingyao dating back to middle age.

Like the other major old bank in Pingyao (Xe Scheng Chao), the Ri Scheng Chang Bank has a very complicated structure.

Both Ri Scheng Chang Bank and Xe Scheng Chao have an impressive and elegant facade expressing unlimited richness and power.

Inside both banks have very elegant open courtyards from where it is given access to the different rooms of the banks.

In the courtyard were usually kept the weapons used by the private soldiers hired by the banks to the defend the two Pingyao branches.

Both Ri Scheng Chang Bank and Xe Scheng Chao  had their own private armies also to serve as escorts when transporting money and gold from one town to another in China.

So each bank has some rooms reseved to the use of the private army and similar in fashion and furniture as barracks.

Ri Scheng Chang Bank and Xe Scheng Chao also hosted the Head of Bank apartment, a small house, little more than two rooms, richly decorated in comparison with the rooms reserved to the other officers and clerks.

Everyone who worked in Ri Scheng Chang Bank and Xe Scheng Chao lived and had his house (or it would be better to say: bedroom) inside  the bank too, for reasons of security and also to be available at any time, night and day.

The most elegant and rich rooms were reserved to be used as guest rooms for the use of the important clients visiting the bank.

Given the long distances from town to town, normally the clients enjoyed some rest and sojourned few days in Pingyao. 


This made of Pingyao a vital centre for communications and a very important place for exchanging information and trading.

Hui Wu Lin Palace

What is more impressive in visiting the old medieval Ri Scheng Chang Bank and Xe Scheng Chao in Pingyao is to realize how, when Europe was deeply in medieval times, in China banks had already built a complicated net of branches spreading from India to Arabia and up to the wild regions of Mongolia.

Messenger, heavily escorted, where sent from Pingyao North and South all over Asia.

This made of Pingyao a vital centre for communications and a very important place for exchanging information and trading.


The exercise of the private army soldiers in a very old and
beautiful panel at  Hui Wu Lin Palace.
The wonderful buildings in Pingyao, the richness of its courtyards and the majesty of its walls has to be certainly related to Pingyao international importance at the time and a vocation for hospitality and cultural exchanges.

All this was possible only if the banks and the city of Pingyao could enjoy a high level of security.

Having this well in the mind, Hui Wu Lin Palace has to be visited.

Hui Wu Lin was a hostel and a place for training for the mercenaries hired by the banks such as Ri Scheng Chang Bank and Xe Scheng Chao to protect their buildings and their cargoes.

The courtyards of Hui Wu Lin Palace exhibits a very interesting history of Chinese martial arts.


The beautiful court of Hui Wu Lin Palace


The court yard designated for the practice of the martial arts in Hui Wu Lin Palace

Martial arts were an essential skill for the private armies employed in Pingyao to the defends the banks, the town and the messengers running all over China.

Hui Wu Lin Palace was used a training centre and it still has today a large collection of weapons including axes, batons and swords.

In the main courtyards regular fighting were hosted to keep the guards well trained and improve their fighting skills.

Tournament of bow and cross bow were also played and Hui Wu Lin Palace quickly became a famous and busy meeting point from private soldiers from all over Asia.

You can almost feel the important of Hui Wu Lin Palace today visiting its rich courtyards and rooms and admiring the little details and inscriptions all over the building. 

You should not absolutely miss to visit Hui Wu Lin Palace if you are visiting Pingyao, I think it is one of the most interesting buildings in town.

Two more wonderful buildings you should absolutely visit: The House of Pingyao Milionaire Hon and The first armed escort agency in China.

The House of Pingyao Millionaire Hon

The House of Pingyao Millionaire Hon offers a wonderful example of the rich buildings that these private armies hired by the banks in Pingyao has to defend.

We have already wrote about the wonderful buildings of Pingyao, but there are two more wonderful buildings you should absolutely visit: The House of Pingyao Milionaire Hon and The first armed escort agency in China.

Observing the House of Pingyao Milionaire Hon and the many other rich buildings in Pingyao I started to make some generalizations:

1) The main colour of the facades in the elegant buildings is black, in contrast with the red of the lanterns, the golden and the white.

2) The most important rooms of the rich buildings in Pingyao are usually situated at the end of the courtyards opposite to the entrance. Obviously being the rooms more distant from the entrance, they were also the rooms more easy to defend in case of an attack.

3) The rooms at the side of the courtyard are reserved to the servants, the assistants and the clerks. The ceilings here are usually lower.

The House of Pingyao Milionaire Hon expresses luxury in everything is there: the furniture, the windows, the facade: everything is decorated with wonderful miniatures.

It is as if the richness has to be expressed and shown at every cost.

In a way is a custom that it is present in China today (and not only in China): rich houses in China should be clearly visible, outstanding and shining (visit for example the rich quarter of Qibao in Shanghai and you will have exactly the same feeling).

The first armed escort agency in China.


The first armed escort agency in China.

The first armed escort agency in China is a huge building with a facade similar to the others.

A wonderful collection of weapons is the most interesting collection in Pingyao.

The first armed escort agency in China collects weapons, flags and coaches used by the soldiers of the private army to escort the treasures from town to town.

Some reproductions of the most importants treasures are exhibited in The first armed escort agency in China.


The first armed escort agency in China is extremely interesting to visit because it offers a deep insight in a medieval organization that looks so modern and catual today.

Not much is different from the orgnization of a private security company today.


The Taoist Temple in Pingyao


The Taoist Temple in Pingyao has beautifully carved wood statues.
The Taoist Temple in Pingyao has beautifully carved wood statues. Two armoured giants are defending the entrance of the temple.

Inside a large courtyard with a large rosetum opens around the sancta sanctorum of the The Taoist Temple in Pingyao, where three giant deities bairded and moustached stand with their imposing size, for some incense sticks to be costly burned in their honour and devotion.

It is extremely spctacular and no doubt worth a visit.


Visiting The Confucian Temple in Pingyao you can appreciate another side
of the importance and richness of the city.


The Confucian Temple

The Confucian Temple is even grander than the Taoist Temple.

The courtyard its huge and the long chain of red and yellow ex voto nearly endless.

It is extremely interesting and inspiring. 

Visiting The Confucian Temple in Pingyao you can appreciate another side of the importance and richness of the city.

The Confucian Temple is richly and expensively decorated, showing that great sponsor had participated to the construction and development of this important religious site.

Wonder around the courtyards and enjoy the inspiring gardens with secular plants and trees and notice how many devotional red ribbons are left outside the temples.

Thousands of red ribbons ornate the large courtyard like ex voto, they are simply amazing, 

Finally few words for the chamber of commerce museum.

Two lobbies existed one time:

1 - the guild an association made by the merchants of the same goods

2 - the assembly made by merchants of the same town.

Both lobbied to secure influential places in the interest of their trade,

It is interesting to note that under the current Communist regime the chamber of commerce become an association to maintain and improve the trade business, but not much is changed from the times of medieval Pingyao.

If you want to read more about Pingyao read also:

PINGYAO - A MEDIEVAL TOWN IN THE HEART OF CHINA #1 

and 

PINGYAO - A MEDIEVAL TOWN IN THE HEART OF CHINA #2)


Are you planning to visit

China?


Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.








Do you like this blog? 

Follow us:


LIKE OUR PAGE ON  FACEBOOK so that you can read our posts when we will update this page

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER  so that we can tweet you updates

BECOME OUR FRIEND ON GOOGLE+1, clicking on the G+1 button on the right column of this page

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER: insert your email on the box on the right column on this page, so that you wil recieve the updates by email (note that when you subscribe you will recieve an email from "feedburner email subscription" asking you to confirm your subscription. Remember to confirm it and be aware that most of the time your email's filters will consider the confirmation email spam and so to find it and reply to it you have to look on your spam folder as well).


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

THE CHINESE HOLOCAUST: WAR MEMORIAL OF THE RAPE OF NANJING

The Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre (this is the official name the Chinese gave to this memorial)
is extremely crude, but it is also interesting to visit.

The Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre would be better called "Memorial of the Victims of Nanjing Massacre" or, as the terrible invasion of the Japanese in China is usually (and certainly very appropriately) called:  "Memorial of the Victims of the Rape of Nanjing".

The Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre (this is the official name the Chinese gave to this memorial) is extremely crude, but it is also interesting to visit.

The Nanjing (or Nanking) Massacre was an episode of mass murder
and mass rape committed by Japanese troops in Nanjing during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937.

When the Japanese captured Nanjing, then the capital of China, tens of thousands, if not more, of Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants were murdered by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Widespread rape and looting also occurred.

The number of deaths is contested among scholars, whose estimates range from 40,000 to 200,000 (as you can see in Nanjing Memorial the official number of victims is 300,000).

It was a shameful page of the history of Japanese and of all Asia.


It is also extremely interesting how the Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre doesn't want to focus just on the events of the Massacre of Nanjing but represents Japan as the historic invader, the one that since the Nineteen century invaded China, decapitated and raped.

In nearly complete darkness, the Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre remember these terrible days, with a lot of pathos and without sparing even the most terrible details.

It is interesting to notice how in the Memorial not only Japan is shamed for its terrible acts, but it is constantly reminded to the visitor that the Japan is the country in Asia that most built relations with the Western countries till present days. 

I guess it is a way to imply a certain subtle connection, as if somehow the evil of Japan has to be seen caused by the life of style and the culture of the West.

It is also extremely interesting how the Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre doesn't want to focus just on the events of the Massacre of Nanjing but represents Japan as the historic invader, the one that since the Nineteen century invaded China, decapitated and raped.
The peace is represented like a Greek goddess, with western features,
holding a baby in her hands looking hopefully for a better future.

Propaganda wants to make clear one point: Nanjing Massacre wasn't just an episode, was the natural continuation of a history of rape against innocent and armless China by an evil nation as Japan is represented in the exhibition of Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre.

The first rooms of the memorial are mainly a huge collections of picture of decapitation and mass execution of hundreds of Chinese peasants.

An explanation of this unbelievable cruelty on such a mass scale is given, supposedly from the Japanese side: a kind of foolishness and mass exaltation is blamed as the terrific engine that moved the Japanese army to so many shameful acts of extreme cruelty.

Another interesting side of the memorial is about the active role that many westerners took during the rape in trying to protect the Chinese people and denounce to the world the terrible cruelties that were committed.

Stories of heroism are celebrated, some of the Westerners who tried to protect the Chinese population during the massacre received the highest decorations by the Chinese government.

People of a completely different background that were in China for many different reasons put their life at risk in the name of justice: a German administrator of a Siemens factory in Shanghai, an American priest, an English doctor, even managed to filmed some of the monstrosities perpetuated so to make the western countries aware. Even Germany was appalled at the time.

The second part of the hall is properly the memorial to the victims. A huge mass grave, with the humans mixed bones clearly visible is so shocking that every comment would be superfluous.

After it  in a huge room in complete dark, hundreds of little candles are shining.

The room is extremely touching and gives to the visitor a way to remember in relative quiet the more than 300.000 victims (according with China) of those terrible days.

At the end of the memorial a huge T shaped pool in black marble is surrounded by a beautiful garden and a huge statue of a humanised Peace divinity stands in front of it.


The room is extremely touching and gives to the visitor a way to remember in relative quiet the more than 300.000 victims (according with China) of those terrible days.

The peace is represented like a Greek goddess, with western features, holding a baby in her hands looking hopefully for a better future.

The feeling tha the memorial gives on a whole it is more of a official commemoration monument that a memorial in honour of the victims.

It looks to me as if it lacks of emphatic, with its geometric architecture , its dark pool and the dark rooms.


The monument seems to stress much more to the crime committed than to the memory of the victims.

Still is a huge effort to remember those terrible times and certainly explain the feeling of gravity and sadness that seem to still be very noticeable in Nanjing today.

The old city center is totally destroyed and all has been recently built or rebuilt, the original walls forgotten and left to ruin.

Even a wonderful jewel like the Ming Tombs doesn't seems to have received the recognition  that deserve, surrounded by huge road works, taxis beeping constantly in the traffic that paralyse Nanjing and shaded by the grandness of Sun Yan-tse's Mausoleum.




Are you planning to travel to China?

Read my page My China Project 

where you can find the list of all of 

my posts and the destinations 

covered in this blog in China.



Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



 

Do you like this blog? 

Follow us:

LIKE OUR PAGE ON  FACEBOOK so that you can read our posts when we will update this page

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER  so that we can tweet you updates

BECOME OUR FRIEND ON GOOGLE+1, clicking on the G+1 button on the right column of this page


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER: insert your email on the box on the right column on this page, so that you wil recieve the updates by email (note that when you subscribe you will recieve an email from "feedburner email subscription" asking you to confirm your subscription. Remember to confirm it and be aware that most of the time your email's filters will consider the confirmation email spam and so to find it and reply to it you have to look on your spam folder as well)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

NANJING - THE MAGNIFICIENT IMPERIAL TOMBS OF THE KINGS OF THE WORLD

Elephants, lions, camels, horses guard the avenue leading to the
 
actual Imperial Ming Tombs in Nanjing. 

The Imperial Ming Tombs are maybe  the most amazing feature of Nanjing. They are called also Ming Xiaolin and it is with this name that they are signalled in the few road signs in English.

The Imperial avenues leave you amazed as you really feel you are entering in the burial place of some imaginary emperors of the world.

Elephants, lions, camels, horses guard the avenue leading to the
actual Imperial Ming Tombs in Nanjing.

They represent the huge size of the Empire, the different exotic species well represent the extension of the Empire, extending at the time from the borders of the Middle East to the Far East (camels and elephants are emblematic).

Nanjing was the Chinese Capital of China Empire before Beijing and this explains why the Imperial Ming Tombs are situated in Nanjing. 
An Elephant at the entrance of the Ming Tombs:
the different exotic species well represent the extension of the Empire

Two animals of each species stand in identical shape and in perfect symmetry one in front of the other one at the side of the paved way,
two of the same specie are crouched in waiting few meters way.

They are huge, all carved from only one huge boulder, their eyes and mouths are clearly visible and some traces of red paint are still colouring the faces of some mythological bears- unicorns.

These statues are an amazing masterpiece of art, they look as if they are nearly alive.

When you have walked through these imposing animals and you expect to finally see the tomb you realize you are only halfway to the actual tombs. 


Two gigantic statues of two high ranked imperial civil servants stand at both side of the avenue




A long shaded avenue run through the park from the entrance to the actual Imperial Ming Tombs for around three kilometers.

The avenue is paved in stone and it is extremely impressive.

After having passed in front of more than 30 animals, the guard of honour of the emperor take the place of the animals at the side of the large paved avenue. 

Two gigantic statues of two high ranked imperial civil servants stand at both side of the avenue and after them the huge statues of two Imperial Army Generals are waiting. 

Only at this point you are halfway to the orange and red walls surrounding the imperial tombs.

The red walls, the yellow tiles and the shape of the main building are immediately reminiscent of the Forbidden City in Beijing. 

Similar is also the design of the Imperial Palace here in Nanjing: where one courtyard is followed by another one exactly like in Beijing.


Inside the Main Gate protecting the Ming Tombs.
The wooden decorated cieling is magnificient (below)
The palace is guarded by a huge bronze tortoise  and at the end of the old walls a huge stone gate with its unmissable pagoda protects the tumulus where the mortal remains of the emperor are buried.

It is a wonderfully built climax the one skilfully built by the architects of the time. 

Like a crescendo you finally arrive at the burial side with the acquired feelings of your own humble nature if compared with the grandness of the emperor
who reigned on a kingdom so big and rich to posses lions, elephants wonderful horses and even some mythological animals to add some exotic charm to his empire.

Sun Yan-tse (the founder and first president of the Republic of China) Mausoleum has been designed following the design and the inspiration of the Ming Tombs. 

Sun Yan-tse Mausoleum is also in Nanjing, on the hills overlooking the Ming Tombs.

It looks like Sun Yan-tse Mausoluem represents very well this new Twenty Century hero who took place of the old Emperor, even the position and the grandness of the Mausoleum seem to shade the majest of the Ming Tombs.

It is to conclude that Sun Yan-tse Mausoleum and the Ming Tombs have certainly a very important place in the history of China and of Nanjing.


The wonderful imposing avenue leading to the Ming Tombs in Nanjing.



Are you planning to travel to China?

Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.




Do you like this blog? 

Follow us:

LIKE OUR PAGE ON  FACEBOOK so that you can read our posts when we will update this page

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER  so that we can tweet you updates

BECOME OUR FRIEND ON GOOGLE+1, clicking on the G+1 button on the right column of this page

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER: insert your email on the box on the right column on this page, so that you wil recieve the updates by email (note that when you subscribe you will recieve an email from "feedburner email subscription" asking you to confirm your subscription. Remember to confirm it and be aware that most of the time your email's filters will consider the confirmation email spam and so to find it and reply to it you have to look on your spam folder as well)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

DO YOU WANT A GREAT JOB IN THE CHINESE PUBLIC SECTOR? ATTEND THE NATIONAL EXAMINATION IN NANJING! BUT BE PREPARED...

Do you want to become a civil servant and enjoy a great career in the Imperial China?
Study ten years, travel for more than three thousands mile to Nanjing and take your written examination at the National Examination. The examination last nine days (including the nights).
In the photo is your room at the National Examination Palace in Nanjing. Are you ready?

The Imperial National Examination Museum in Nanjing old town is very small but it certainly gives you a lot to reflect on how certain issues or kind of eternal.

How to examine candidates and assess they are sufficiently fitted for important jobs?

Even more important: how to choose the right people for key position in the Government of Imperial China?

This is what the National Examination Museum in Nanjing is about: the complicated (but so modern!) way used during the Qing Dynasty to select the best people that would become Chinese Imperial Civil Servants.

Nanjing (also spelled Nankin) was during Qing Dynasty the Chinese Capital of the Chinese Empire and here from all over China and sometimes from more than 3000 miles away candidates came to attend their examination to become important bureaucrats of the Emperor.

Now, when I talk of Qing Dynasty I talk of the Seventeen and Eighteen Century when China was still an Empire. So, why should be so interesting to know how candidates were selected to become important imperial civil servants?
The Examination Palace is situated along the river in very
beautiful and scenic spot in the heart of Nanjing

And why to make a Museum about the History of the Examination that candidates had to undergo to become Civil Servants in Imperial China?

The answer? Because the system of selection to select high officers of the government at that time is so amazingly modern!

To guarantee a fair and equal examination process for all the candidates, avoiding possible acts of corruption, nepotism and the use of any illegal device was an issue five hundreds years ago in medieval China exactly as it is still an issue today around the modern world.

Read this descriptions of the examination in Imperial China and tell me if they would not sound modern today (well... yes, apart for the funny beards and the strange hats , obviously!)

Candidates at work!








Rules of the examination to become civil servants (Qing dynasty - Seventeen Century, from the diaries exhibited at Nanjing National Examination Museum in Nanjing, China): 

"The candidate is not allowed to have with him during the examination any written piece of paper, book, diary or any other similar support.

The examination  officers must check the bags of the candidates.

The hats of the candidates should be of a single layer, the big and the small gown should be of a single layer too, so that nothing can be hidden inside.

The divinity protecting the candidates.
The brush pen tube must be emptied by the candidate in front of the examination officers to verify that nothing is hidden inside.

When the candidate's name is called he must come forward and unfasten his vest and remove his socks. two officers (and not just one... for obvious reasons...) must search and inspect the candidate.

When all the candidates have entered in the room where the written examination takes place the room must be locked, the the big cannon would mark the start of the examination and even the Dragon Gate protecting the walls must be closed so that none can enter or exit".

What is changed in five hundreds years? Very little, the rules above can be as modern as an iPad today. 

Timeless items are exhibited in the National Examinations Museum in Nanjing: little books found hidden in the long beard and in the long clothes of some candidates, written in minuscule characters, so to be illegally used during the examination.

Even more amazing than these objects, it is the grade of importance and prestige that the National Examinations had at that time.


As you can read below the photo: "rare book for cheating in imperial examinations of Qing Dynasty

To pass the examination and become an Imperial Civil Servant was such a prestigious status that needed an appropriate public recognition and acknowledgement: so the successful candidates were allowed to stop dressing their plain clothes but were allowed to dress adorned hats, jewels and heavenly decorated brocade, a long decorated silk gown, literally shining the new status acquired.

People travelled from all over China to attend these examinations.

Understandably the Imperial Examinations weren't just a necessary step to start a prestigious job, it was much more than this: it was a way to see recognized and celebrated a life of study, of hard work and of intellectual efforts.

The examination rooms (small cubicle where each candidate has to stay during the written examination) is like a battlefield, a book of the time states.

Essays are written in haste during the day and reviewed carefully at
night.

"It is is not 9 days striving, but ten years assiduous learning. Do not forget!" says an old inscription once at the entrance of the examination palace.

Yes, an entire huge building, looking like a fortress was exclusively built and dedicated for the National Examination in Imperial China.

Toilet of the Examination Palace.
Hundreds of little rooms, with just a table and a chair, huge kitchens and a large courtyard composed the palace, surrounded by large walls and a fortified gate.

"Grave is the environment and difficult the test. I scratch my head and moan and grow with apprehension, alas for me the examination  is a big waste of time!", is the inscription below a picture of one of the many candidates looking at the examination papers in their little cubicles.

"One old man at the age of 80 years old comes for the examination too. His ambition would not die till passing the examination" tells another little panel of the museum.

So organized in every possible detail was the National Examination that even the meals of the candidates were regulated: "Taking tests is not a relaxing time: three meals for day are served: rolls made the night before.


Officers at the entrance of The Examination Palace calling the candidates.

It is fascinating to think that centuries ago, when distances in China were even longer than now (and distances still be huge today!), the imperial examination took place and gathered together people from so many different regions and races customs and cultures.

It is somehow a romantic and surrealistic picture to imagine these men spending and devoting their lives and their energies in the study for the National Imperial Examination and then, after years of study and sacrifice, finally start their long travel to take the examination with great hopes and the great pressure and expectations of their own family and friends and may be of the whole town from where they came from.

How modern can look old china today!




Are you planning to travel to China?

Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



Do you like this blog? 

Follow us:

LIKE OUR PAGE ON  FACEBOOK so that you can read our posts when we will update this page

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER  so that we can tweet you updates

BECOME OUR FRIEND ON GOOGLE+1, clicking on the G+1 button on the right column of this page

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER: insert your email on the box on the right column on this page, so that you wil recieve the updates by email (note that when you subscribe you will recieve an email from "feedburner email subscription" asking you to confirm your subscription. Remember to confirm it and be aware that most of the time your email's filters will consider the confirmation email spam and so to find it and reply to it you have to look on your spam folder as well).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Venice of Asia - Suzhou - The best to see in China

The walk along the canal is beautiful. Along the canal run a long semi-pedestrianized street,
where most of the shops and the restaurants for the tourists in Suzhou are situated.

Suzhou is maybe not as beautiful and idyllic as the Chinese people describe this town an hour and a half away from Shanghai with the ultra modern and ultra fast train.

Suzhou is know as the Venice of the East.

It is only partly a good definition. Suzhou has in common with Venice the canals and, for the Chinese opinion, a romantic charm, although the second  feature appears much less evident than the first one.

Totally unexpected was my exploration of the town at 7 am in the morning.

Pestered by the mosquitoes and the humid heat  (two unadvertised features of the Venice of the East) I decided to give up  my attempts to go back to sleep and I started to walk in a semi deserted town.


The walk along the canal is beautiful.
Along the canal run a long semi-pedestrianized street
The mist was lifting from the water of the canals adding to the canals something old and romantic, although a little bit smelly too.

The walk along the canal is beautiful. Along the canal run a long semi-pedestrianized street, where most of the shops and the restaurants for the tourists in Suzhou are situated.

I walked to the main Taoist temple in Suzhou to discover in the large shady courtyards all the amazing activity of Suzhou oldest generation!

Lifting legs above their heads and kicking rapidly the air the old people of Suzhou don't look old at all. They look actually much more fitted and sporty than the younger people, often over weight and very slow in their movements.

In front of the main Taoist Temple in Suzhou, dozens middle aged men and women were dancing in rhythm. They were the wonderful witnesses of the  fabulous Chinese long life.


A central pond and its bamboo garden, the geometric pagodas and the lake stones
(also in modern geometric style) are the main courtyard of Suzhou Museum.
From discovery to discovery the Suzhou Museum was really a good one and as soon as it opened its doors I was the first to enter the museum to visit it.

What a surprise!

Finally a museum in China where beautiful art pieces are exhibited with taste and love so than the visitor feels an interest and a connection with them.

Till I visited Suzhou Museum when I visited a museum in China I felt as if walking through the different rooms and exhibits was like browsing the pages of an old art catalogue, where beautiful and less beautiful items are coldly listed one after the other one, without much description and most of the time without much connection.

Here at Suzhou museum I finally felt clearly a connection between the different items exhibited. 

Suzhou was for me the star gate to the Chinese universe. 


Suzhou was for me the star gate to the Chinese universe. 
Finally after having visited Suzhou museum I was able to say that I have understood more of the fascinating Chinese art.

I believe this is what a good a museum has to be. 

Not just a collection of beautiful items, but a door to a world, an era, a country, a style.

Suzhou museum is a very beautiful building in itself. 

The modern design and the contrast between the black and the white of its walls is extremely interesting.

A central pond and its bamboo garden, the geometric pagodas and the lake stones (also in modern geometric style) are the main courtyard of Suzhou Museum.
A wonderful Chinese old ship in jade with a fisherman on the boat
shaped so well to look almost alive

The design of the museum is a wonderful modern representation and tribute to the wonderful House of the Master of Net, one of the most beautiful things in Suzhou (read the dedicated the post to the House and the Garden of the Master of Net).

Some of the exhibits are magnificent: a wonderful Chinese old ship in jade with a fisherman on the boat shaped so well to look almost alive is in my opinion one of the best features of the museum.

Another great object is the wonderful fang of an elephant pictured below and wonderfully carved in the ivory. 





One room of Suzhou Museum is particularly interesting. It displays a typical Ming studio. 

This reproduction of a Ming studio dates back to the XV Century. 

The design of the library in the Ming Studio looks so impressively modern that is unbelievable to think that this style doesn't belong to our own century.

Finally at the end of the museum a room is dedicated to Lin Dan, a contemporary, although classical in his style, painter. 

What a wonderful work of precision are his paintings of classical Chinese subjects: lakes stones and flowers painted in a way to appear more beautiful than the real one, as this is the aim of the classical art in China.
The best part of the walls is probably the one in front
of the modern and stylish Suzhou train station

They say classical Chinese artists research in their work the quintessence of art, it seems that Lin Dan was able to make his research  profitable.

Before to leave Suzhou the last sight should be for the imposing walls, similar to the one of Xian and Pingyao.

The best part of the walls is probably the one in front of the modern and stylish Suzhou train station, where the huge statue of Confucius is collocated.

Suzhou is probably not as idyllic as it is described by the Chinese people, but if only the historic gardens and the magnificent buildings like the House of the Master of the Nets were able to force the encirclement of modernity built around them, then Suzhou would live again his rich, noble and romantic history.

Suzhou has also a very large modern area, but differently from many other cities in China is not ugly and anonymous: it is actually quite beautiful!


Suzhou is surrounded by water and it is around the Taihu Lake that
the most interesting part of the modern area is concentrated.
Suzhou is surrounded by water and it is around the Taihu Lake that the most interesting part of the modern area is concentrated.

The beautiful Taihu Lake is surrounded by a walk pedestranized with some beautiful statues of Botero and an amazing skyscraper in the shape of the Triumph Arc of Paris.

I have to say that although daring, it is beautiful architecture and some how adds something to the charm of Suzhou.  
It is a complete different setting if compared with the old town, but exactly for this reason Suzhou is so interesting.


Suzhou or Paris? The Arc de Triomphe - style skyscraper.




Are you planning to travel to China?




Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



Do you like this blog? 

Follow us:

LIKE OUR PAGE ON  FACEBOOK so that you can read our posts when we will update this page

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER  so that we can tweet you updates

BECOME OUR FRIEND ON GOOGLE+1, clicking on the G+1 button on the right column of this page

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER: insert your email on the box on the right column on this page, so that you wil recieve the updates by email (note that when you subscribe you will recieve an email from "feedburner email subscription" asking you to confirm your subscription. Remember to confirm it and be aware that most of the time your email's filters will consider the confirmation email spam and so to find it and reply to it you have to look on your spam folder as well).