China Study Tour – Day 6

Day 6

Authors: Courtney Bristow, Cristian Di Iulio, Xinying Xie

Our first daytrip outside Shanghai began with an early rise to catch a bus to Suzhou. We drove through the criss-crossing freeways, away from the towering high-rises, to the picturesque town of Suzhou.

We began at the Suzhou Museum – an elegantly designed building that blended elements of modern and traditional Chinese architecture. The museum led us through a journey of Chinese traditional art and culture. As one of the most archaeologically significant sites in China, Suzhou is home to a huge array of historical and cultural riches. These included incredible porcelains and ceramics to artefacts crafted from copper, steel and jade, some dating back thousands of years. All of this was surrounded by the beautiful gardens and a koi pond, which made for a truly stunning cultural experience.

There was more to this remarkable city than the museum. The small traditional shops that vended an array of goods like pounded rice cakes, silk products that lined the streets made Suzhou markedly different from the sleek modernity of Shanghai. The city obviously takes pride in its unique cultural significance and actively preserves its cultural way of life while also being a developed city. We also saw ladies dressed in beautiful traditional Chinese Hanfus (汉服)and mustered the courage to ask for pictures with them.

Many went our separate ways to enjoy the many food vendors along the main road in this traditional part of the city. And just like previous days, no one walked away hungry or dissatisfied. The tour guide recommended a popular noodle restaurant close to the museum for lunch, where we enjoyed a delicious crispy noodle soup.

We ended our trip with a visit to the Humble Administrator Garden. In this picturesque setting, we explored the nooks and crannies that wound through this magnificent garden. Stepping through the pavilions, surrounded by peaceful ponds, and framed by burning orange maple leaves, it was truly like stepping back in time. It also gave us the opportunity to interact with Chinese tourists who had come from other parts of the country to visit the Garden. One could not help but be amazed at the thought that this garden was the home to an ancient Chinese family. What an impressive backyard!

Today’s day trip provided a welcome hiatus from the bustling city life and enhanced our understanding of Chinese culture. The museum displayed traditional Chinese artwork that served as a visual reminder of China’s antiquity, as well as highlighting the rich history of Chinese art. Furthermore, the Humble Administrator Garden provided the group with an insight into another important aspect of Chinese culture- gardens. The serene setting of this garden seemed miles away from the metropolis of Shanghai, and greeted its guests with tranquillity found nowhere else in the city.

Today’s excursion perfectly balanced the history and culture of China, with an opportunity for relaxation and self-reflection in the gardens. The group enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed the day!

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