On day six of our China adventure we travelled by bus from Hangzhou to Suzhou, our first stop was at the Master of the Nets garden which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The garden demonstrates Chinese garden designers' adept skills for synthesising art, nature, and architecture to create unique masterpieces which explore the fundamental question regarding the nature of concepts such as being, existence and reality. The Master of the Nets is particularly regarded among garden connoisseurs for its mastering the techniques of relative dimension, contrast, foil, sequence and depth, and borrowed scenery.
The Master of the Nets garden, originally called Ten Thousand Volume Hall, was first constructed in 1140 by Shi Zhengzhi the Deputy Civil Service Minister of the Southern Song Dynasty government who was inspired by the simple and solitary life of a Chinese fisherman depicted in philosophical writings. After his death the garden passed through various owners, subsequently falling into disarray until around 1785 when it was restored by Song Zongyuan, a retired government official of the Qing Dynasty who drastically redesigned the garden and added multiple buildings, while retaining the spirit of the site. He often referred to himself as a fisherman and
renamed it the Master of the Nets Garden, as an allusion to the simple life of a fisherman.
After lunch we took a boat trip along Suzhou's Grand Canal which is the longest canal in the world. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, some sections date as far back as the 5th century BCE. Suzhou's Grand Canal is located at the Taihu Lake Basin in the downstream of Yangtze River and belongs to Jiangnan Grand Canal which starts from Zhenjiang in the north and ends at Hangzhou in the south, and is an important part of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. After a ride on the boat we docked and wandered around one of the ancient villages along the canal together with lots of other tourists.
We also then visited the Suzhou City Lanli Garden Embroidery Research Institute where the needlecraft and embroidery workmanship was exquisite. While not allowed to take photos I was given permission to take a picture of the embroidered tiger since the tiger is the mascot of the Australian 5 Royal Australian Regiment.
The next morning we were off once again, first to visit a Chinese silk factory before
heading to Shanghai. Given an explanation of the process of how the silkworms produce the silk and how it's then used to make silk we were taken to a showroom full of silk sheets and bed linen (where we succumbed and bought a set). There was also a shop selling a variety of both men's and women's attire made of silk. The young salesman obviously did a good job on Kev and I; we're now just waiting for the goods to arrive!!
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