Yangtze watertowns beckon with scenery and history(1)
2007-10-18 10:40:30 [ Big Normal Small ]     Comment
Yangtze watertowns beckon with scenery and history

Just as there is paradise in heaven, so there are Suzhou and Hangzou on Earth. Among the 24 recognized historical and cultural cities of China, Suzhou has attracted tourists from Marco Polo to the travelers of today because of its unique charm.

Also sometimes called Gu Su from a well-known poem by the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) poet Zhang Ji, Suzhou has a history of over 4,000 years although today's city was built in 514 BC.

After 2,500 years of the twists and turns of Chinese history, Suzhou almost succeeds in maintaining its appearance of 2,500 years ago with its 1,153 bridges built in all styles over 35 kilometers of its flowing river - it is the watertown of the East.

Suzhou has a rich cultural landscape with its graceful, delicate lake and nearby hills. Of its 69 classic gardens, the Wang Shi Garden, the Humble Administrator's Garden (Zhuo Zheng Yuan) and the Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan) are the most famous.

Suzhou's Gardens combine the concepts of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianuism. Abstracting the essence of the architectural arts since the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the gardens mix architecture, gardening, sculpture, painting, poems and essays, arts and crafts.

The Humble Administrator's Garden and Lingering Garden, together with the Summer Palace and Chengde Imperial Summer Resort are the four famous gardens of China.

Nine gardens, including the Humble Administrator's Garden, Lingering Garden and Wang Shi Garden are on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Other scenic spots include: Tiger Hill (Hu Qiu), the Hanshan Temple, the Surging Wave Pavilion and the Garden of Harmony.

The beauty of Suzhou does not only lie in the gardens but also in its natural scenery such as the mountains surrounding Taihu Lake, like Lingyan Mountain, Tianping Mountain and Dongting Mountain.

Its rich history and geography gave birth to Suzhou's distinctive culture. The Suzhou area is one of the sites where the Chinese textile industry originated. Suzhou embroidery, along with Hunan embroidery, Guangdong embroidery and Sichuan embroidery, are the four famous embroideries of China.

Pingtan was also born in Suzhou.

Pingtan is a traditional story-telling art in which two performers "sing" a story back and forth.

Pingtan, Kunqu Opera and Suzhou Opera are known as the "Three Extraordinary Treasures" of Suzhou art.

Some of Suzhou's famous sons include Fan Zhongyan in the Song Dynasty and Gu Yan, Wu Zhang and Tai Yan in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

But doesn't only feast your eyes on the beautiful scenery.

Suzhou cuisine is time-honored as well. Song Shu Gui Yu (sweet and sour fried Mandarin fish) and Jiao Hua Ji (beggar's chicken) are famed both home and abroad. Dried beancurd is a specialty of Suzhou and should not be missed.

Tongli Town

Originally named Fushi, Tongli is an old but well-preserved watertown with a history of more than 1,000 years. Tongli is a destination where you can spend a holiday experiencing traditional Chinese culture.

From ancient times, it has been teeming with poets, painters, Confucian scholars and top government officials. Dozens of stone tablets from different periods are preserved in Tongli.

In 1981 Tongli Town was declared one of the 13 national standard tour towns of the Taihu Lake region.

Zhenze Town and Xinshen Farm

Zhenze Town was once crowned as the "Cleanest town of Jiangsu Province."

Zhenze boasts a mild climate, fertile land, developed agriculture and a long history of planting mulberry trees and breeding silkworms.

Xinshen farm features a planting area, a sightseeing area and ecological parks. It provides tourists with sightseeing, accommodation, and science education. The integration of travel and entertainment lets visitors feel at home.
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