Monday, June 7, 2010

Blog 18 - 7th June

We've just spent 5 days in China - first at Suzhou, for the IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects) conference. Suzhou is an old canal city with 47 kilometres of waterways, the original silk industry and some great gardens. There were 2,800 delegates - 2,000 Chinese and 800 from overseas. Damien's was one of 180 papers submitted, however those presenting were mainly Chinese. I had a wonderful time as the only person who had signed up for the accompanying person's trip so had my own personalised tour guides for 2 days. Guess who had more fun? Above is the old market town, below some typical scenes of Suzhou. If you'd like to know more here is a link.

My favourite garden was the newly opened Jiangsu Lake which was beautiful in the rain. We were amused by the bevvy of attendants photographing this bride in the cold while the groom was ignored and looking decidedly bored alongside. Over 60 classical gardens are well preserved and 9 of them are listed in the Catalog of World Cultural Heritage. They have very amusing names such as the Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lingering Garden , Mountain Villa of Embracing Beauty, Surging Wave Pavilion, Garden of Couple's Retreat and the Garden of Retreat and Reflection.

The conference was held at the Central Hotel where we stayed. We were convinced that this was Charmain Mao's number one public grand communal guest house for government officials. There were similar banners all over the city welcoming international IFLA delegates.

One thing we kept noticing was people smoking everywhere, even when this man was selling me custard apples and lychees (yum!) and demonstrating how he weighed them to find out the price. Somehow I was not convinced by his ancient technology ,however his face was too sweet to resist!

The Chinese silk industry originated in Suzhou 2,500 years ago. It felt a bit like a school excursion seeing the process from silk worms and larvae to the finished product.

One of the many translation amusements!

The Astor House Hotel is the oldest hotel in Shanghai dating from 1846 and is famous for its guest list including Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell and Charlie Chaplin. Edgar Snow who wrote Red Star Over China and stayed in our room 303 in 1931. How could we not burst out laughing when we saw the Chinese staff in kilts? Here is the link if you are planning to go to Expo. There is a free shuttle us from the hotel.

Below is the view from our hotel across the Yangtze river. Amazing!


Anonymous said...

Isn't China just amazing???? Anne-Maree and I learnt so much, enjoyed the food, the shopping and, of course the people who went out of their way to help us. But absolutely the best bit was hanging on to the seats and closing our eyes every time we hopped into a taxi!!!!!
How lucky we were to have you and Damien taking care of us in Seoul and, in China, Peter.

liam said...

Did anyone else notice that optical effect in the first photo? Looks like there is a square mirror in the middle of the photo, it took me a while to realise what i was actually looking at. strange.

Susan said...

Thanks for your comments Jacinta. Yes Liam, the photo was intentional. Skills increasing slowly as I experiment with different camera settings and use the grid. We will be away for 6 weeks from 1st July so there will be free accommodation here.

Anonymous said...

The trip to China brings back sweet memories especially to Diana, I have also done the same tour as you when visiting her while she lived there great pictures!
greetings from karin and Diana in Athens

Susan said...

Yes - I still wear the green scarf you brought me back from Beijing Karin. Diana you may be interested to know that Greece is a big customer of Korea and Tong Yeong is the place ships are built and traded. Lots of celebrations in Seoul last night as Korea was victorious over Greece in the soccer. Wonder how Australia will go against Germany.

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