Hi folks I am back. Have been busy doing assignments, catching up with people, dancing and led a history tour for the first time in my life (Have done related things before but the duration of this is the longest). Just tried it for experience sake. I don’t think I’d ever do it again though. I prefer behind-the-scenes work.
Oh here’s a photo as evidence (holy s**t that’s wayyy too candid)
Anyway if you aren’t sick of it already, here is an account of my 3 days spent in Suzhou and the next post will be on Shanghai.
As the saying goes, 上有天堂，下有苏杭. It means there is heaven above, while there is Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth. Suzhou has been in existence 2000 years ago and the centre of silk trade. At present, it is the 2014 awardee of Lee Kwan Yew’s World City Prize, which recognizes the city’s sustainable urban development.
Suzhou’s airport is only for domestic flights, so we took a 2 hour long bus ride from Shanghai Pu Dong airport to Suzhou. Photos of Shanghai en route to Suzhou I will post in the next entry.
Was quite surprised to find Suzhou so clean and the road so spacious, only to realize that the area is part of the Suzhou Industrial Park which is a Singapore-China venture, which accounts for the ordered urban planning. (Make shift police posts out of nowhere)
Yeah didn’t do much on the first day because nearly half the day was spent travelling. Mostly conking out and looking at how the roads are similar to that of Singapore.
Lecture about China’s background information at Economics and Management School of Wuhan University. Many many facts and figures. Quite motivating for students to see the vision of the institute erected in classroom walls and how they are striving in that direction.
Went for lunch and get some grocery shopping done at Hua Ren Neighbourhood Centre after that. Here they call their shopping malls as neighbourhood centres. Meanwhile there is some ongoing promotion of doraemon.
Suzhou hypermarts are the solution to first world consumer problems.
Visited the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre (SCAC), a permanent base for the Golden Rooster awards. Yet another Singaporean concept to introduce performing arts into lives of the Chinese. While Singapore’s esplanade is shaped like a durian, SCAC is shaped like a bird nest. Even in the souvenir shop they have Singapore themed magnets saying that we are a fine city.
SCAC is located at the east of Golden Rooster Lake so there is a scenic walk down the waterfront. Meanwhile, all hail the haze and trouser building.
The Golden Rooster statuette as a commemoration
SCAC also doubles as a movie theatre.
The streets of Suzhou old town, a far cry from the modern looking roads at Suzhou Industrial Park.
Up next is the Suzhou Humble Administrator Garden. It is a private man-made garden built in 1513 by official Wang Xiancheng who experienced heavy Ming court politics so he wanted to seek some recluse and re-connect with nature. The garden is created based on landscape paintings Much of the layout here abide to Chinese philosophical teachings and poetry.
Can’t describe using the appropriate vocabulary of how it looks like. It is supposed to be 诗情画意 and a 世外桃源 (idyllic, retreat away from the world.) back then. But now the place is just full of people shoving their way past others. And no, I did not manage to re-connect with nature with all the excited visitors around. Feels as though something is gone.
Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens from the imperial period and the city’s ability to preserve them while balancing with modernity is remarkable. Over here is the inscription of the garden as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the many pavilions. This one is for a water well 天泉. Pavilions have poetry lines written, asking visitors to “stop and smell the flowers” or admire the scenery etc.
Took boat ride down the Suzhou canal in the evening. The Suzhou canal is part of the larger Grand Canal. The Grand Transport River is an artificial river built during the Sui Dynasty running from the north-south direction of China because China doesn’t have a natural north-south river. It connects the Yangzi river with other canals built before Sui dynasty.
And again, the Suzhou canal is also a UNESCO Heritage Site. They received the conferment on 22 June 2014.
If we rode on the boat even further, we might have ended up in Beijing. Yeah this is how it looks at night. I have to brush up on my night scene photo taking skills. For a city person, I find it a luxury to just sit by the river bank and watch time go by.
As usual, lessons again. Unfortunately the professor didn’t manage to finish the part on the business etiquette of the Chinese due to time constraint, which I’d thought it would be fun to know. Singaporeans are usually the kind who needs terms to be put down in black-and-white, while mainland Chinese talk over a meal. Pretty intriguing to know how ethnically similar people have different ways of dealing with the same matter.
Company visit to Suzhou Jiahe food industry. Accordingly, they are the top producer of non-dairy creamer in Asia, boost world-class production methods, emphasize on Intellectual Property Rights and quality assurance and consumer welfare. They also embody the Harmonious Society resolution where they use environment friendly production methods, give back to society through charity and pay attention to employee welfare.Their brand name is called 晶花 (King Flower).
Their wall of achievements. And this is only one side of the wall. They even got recognition for paying past a certain amount of tax to the government.
Their workplace organisation method. Took this picture while walking past as the company worker didn’t introduce it to us. 5S methodology is some organisation method for work space productivity, so employees have understanding on how work should be done. If you look at the alphabets, they are Romaji. Talk about learning from the success models of different countries.
Some behind the scenes of production
After that is some free-and-easy time at Ping Jiang Road, whereby I already covered the shopping part in the previous post. So here is another quirky photo of the otherwise rustic place.
Went to Ou Shang hypermart at night. The flags reminded me of Singapore national day.
Visited Suzhou museum, founded in 1960 at the former residence of Li Xiucheng, a military commander during the Taiping Rebellion. A museum in a rebel’s home! Seriously how cool is this?! But anyway the current building adjoining the residence is built in 2006 with some modern architectural design.
Anyway we were only given about half an hour to roam about so we sort of just looked at most exhibits roughly, and it is difficult to take photos of artefacts without people getting in the way.
Say hi to Li Xiucheng
Collections include buddhist sculptures, burial objects, calligraphy & painting from Ming ang Qing dynasty. The bowl artefact is a celadon lotus shaped flower bowl from the 5 dynasties in Huqiu Pagoda. Lotuses are often used in Buddhist pagodas because it symbolise cleanliness and virtue even though it grows in dirt, and it also has something to do with rebirth. Likely that the artist is a Buddhist.
One last shot of Suzhou before leaving for Shanghai.
My thoughts about Suzhou? Talking about achieving a balance between opposing forces, you can see it here. On one end there are preserved historical sites, while on the other there are the modern-looking areas found in cities. Amidst the industrial development, there are promotion of the arts to soften the concrete effects. And with the potential harm done on the environment, there are gardens planted by the road. Although I’d thought some areas looked like Singapore, but that is the Suzhou way of learning-by being modest and constantly studying success models around the world to create a dynamic city.