Monday, June 09, 2008

Good things come in small packages

Suzhou is famous throughout China for its classical gardens. The smallest of these is the Garden of the Master of Nets or Wangshe Yuan. It is widely regarded as the most impressive garden and I have to agree after visiting it last Sunday morning.

The main courtyard is accessible through a narrow alley filled with tourist memorabilia. It feels as if you are entering someone's home - through the front porch, stone gate, reception halls and inner courtyards. The charming nature of this residential section lulls a visitor into a sense of complacency. You're made to feel welcome, comfortable and vaguely amused at all the hullabaloo that surrounds yet another "wonder of Suzhou". You enjoy the little bonsai trees, maple trees, bamboo arrangements when stumble upon the piece the resistance...

The central garden of Wangshe Yuan

This 360 panorama of the central garden represents everything you would expect to see in a classical Chinese garden: pagodas, mountains, rivers and plants. It is a beautiful oasis that delights the soul. Despite the large numbers of tourists and visitors, one can still find a sense of tranquility in every corner of the garden. Everything feels so balanced and connected, from the kois in the pond to the weeping willows to the 8-moon pavilion.

It truly is a wonder of Suzhou, so I shall cease my mocking and enjoy its simple splendour.

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