The gardens of Suzhou

by Konrad Bucheli

Saturday 23rd June, 2012

In the morning we got picked up by Caren and drove to Suzhou, a big city with 4 million inhabitants and partner city of Constance. With a bit of search we found the entry to the railway station and met David, a friend of Caren. Together we visited the „Humble Admisistrator's Garden“. The fact that it is world cultural heritage and one of the four most important gardens in China indicates that this Chinese pleasure garden is not very humble. It was constructed in the Ming Dynasty at about 1509 by a retired imperial official and has a size of 5.2 ha. It is a Chinese garden, this means that it consists of artificial mountains and ponds, but it should look as natural as possible. And everywhere there are pavilions to be able to enjoy the garden. The next point of interest was Tigre Hill, a former kings site which is crowned with a thousand year old, slightly leaning pagoda. Else it is a beautiful park with many pavilions. Spectacular is the collection of bonsais with more than hundred trees. Our last stop was Lake Jinji. Here we is the home of modern Suzhou. A nice, two kilometre long promenade goes along the shore. The view to the city is not so good due to bad weather. One thing remarkably changed since my last visit ten years ago. Then I counted one skyscraper. This was very pleasant in contrast to the forest of skyscrapers in Shanghai. Today Suzhou also has many skyscrapers, but also the number of inhabitants doubled since then. After we drove back to Kunshan and enjoyed a wonderful Chinese dinner. Today Caren's sister arrived from Taiwan and joined us for dinner.