From the Arch to the Great Wall

16. Heaven Suzhou


Instead of departing for a tourist location this morning, we started out by taking a bus ride to Suzhou. I slept and watched a movie and before I knew it, we were there. We ate lunch and met up with our temporary guide that replaced Bill. Next, we went to the Lingering Garden. The garden was first laid out in 1522 AD. The whole space is artfully and appropriately handled, and arranged with exquisite petty scales. It is a typical garden of the Ming period with elegance and exquisiteness in the southern Yangtze Valley. The Cloud-Crowned Peak in it is a treasured piece of Taihu rock noted in the region.

This was a neat place and I had a lot of fun there. There were live musicians that sat in private booths and played traditional instruments such as the guzhen. The garden itself was very pretty and we learned about the "flirting corridor" which was two corridors separated by a wall with windows; one corridor was for the men and one was for the ladies. The whole point was to be able to talk to the opposite sex while maintaining the social hierarchy of men being powerful, women being timid.

The next stop was a silk embroidery factory. We got to see how a trained artist takes strands of silk to weave intricate designs on cloth that look almost exactly like a painting or real picture from far away. We also got to see a world famous weaving of a cat that took 2 years to make and contained over 500 colors of silk, even though it was just a white cat with blue eyes against a red background. After that, we proceeded to the Tiger Pagoda. It started to rain so I put on my poncho and headed out while others without rain protection stayed behind on the bus. The mini expedition found out that the pagoda was closed due to rain so I walked around and meandered back to the bus.

Today was Dr. Tai's birthday and everyone surprised her by presenting a card on the bus and singing "Happy Birthday" in Chinese. She felt honored by this and talked about how nice it was to spend her birthday with her family in China.

The stop following the Tiger Pagoda would have to be my pick for "most fun filled" stop. We first arrived at another silk factory but this time we got to see the actual process of preparing silkworms. Later, we got time to shop around inside the store for silk weavings, blankets, and decorations (again, more of the same stuff we've all seen before). Finally, the tour guide led the group into a medium sized room with a small runway down the middle. Not one to miss out on a private fashion show, I picked a seat on the side of the runway. As soon as the women came out, I knew I had made a right decision. The models modeled everything silk from outerwear (chi paos and silk tops) to evening wear (gowns and dresses). The show lasted about ten minutes and when it was over, everyone went to another part of the store to look at silk clothes and then to the bus.

We checked into the China Garden Hotel after dinner and immediately fell in love with it. It looked like a huge mansion with a main building and two wings. The main building housed such things as the squash room, billiards room, indoor maze, and massage parlor. Each guest room had a mini water cooler and a standalone shower in addition to a bathtub. After unpacking and looking around, Jason and I took a taxi to a small shopping district to look for CDs and DVDs. When it was time to go home, we only saw bike taxis (a person riding a bike and pulling a covered carriage) and decided to take one. The journey home was quite interesting because like most of my experiences in China, this was my first time riding in a bike taxi. The driver was nice and asked for only what we thought was a reasonable price. I paid him and went upstairs to pack because the next day, we would be traveling to Hanzhou.




第十六章 上有天堂

作者:岳群
翻譯:時報編譯組

今天早上我們坐遊覽車抵達蘇州,由一位臨時代替比爾(Bill)的導遊帶我們到蘇州園林去玩,那裡又好玩又漂亮,還有彈奏中國古典樂器,例如古箏的音樂家現場演奏。園林本身就很美,內有曲院迴廊,這個迴廊很有意思,是兩道迴廊,一道給男生走,另一道給女生走,中間隔著有窗戶的牆,用意是讓男生、女生可以隔著窗戶講話,而不失中國社交傳統禮儀。

下一站是去絲刺繡廠,我們看到熟練的藝術家在布上刺繡出像圖畫一樣的圖案,遠看起來像真的一樣,有一幅世界聞名的貓絲織品,雖然祇是一隻藍色眼睛紅色背景白貓,卻花了兩年時間完成,由五百多種顏色的絲織成,可謂工程浩大。我們接著去虎丘參觀,可惜下起雨來因虎丘沒開放而作罷。

今天是戴老師的生日,我們大夥兒在遊覽車上合唱「生日快樂」並送給他一張生日賀卡,戴老師很感動,並且非常高興能夠在中國與家人一起過生日。

這次旅程最好的部份來了。那就是我們到絲繡廠看服裝表演,首先我們抵達一家絲工廠參觀養蠶和絲織品,然後大家被領到一個內有小型伸展台的表演廳,我選了個伸展台邊上的位置坐下,當服裝秀的模特兒一出場,我就知道我坐對地方了。模特兒們穿著不同的絲質品出場展示,包括旗袍、斗篷、洋裝和晚禮服等。這個秀大概祇有十分鐘,可是精彩極了。

晚飯後,住進中國花園大旅館,這個旅館真好,像個大豪宅,有個很大的大廳和延伸的兩翼,內有客廳,撞球廳,各廳房和按摩廳,每間客房有個迷你小冰箱,除了一般浴缸外,旁邊另外有沖澡的水蓬頭。我和奕傑(Jason)將房間搞定後,就搭計程車到街上去買影碟,回來的時候祇看到「腳踏計程車」(就是司機騎腳踏車,拉著一個有蓬的車座)。正如同在中國的許多其他經驗一樣,這可是我們第一次看到腳踏計程車,很是新鮮,我們搭上它回旅館,司機很好,收費也很公道。

明天我們就要到杭州去了。


 
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