Stepping into Ancient China

A while ago I decided to visit the “Lingering Garden” [留园] and “Tiger Hill” [虎丘]. Both are prominent tourist sites in Suzhou; the Lingering Garden is also world heritage site. This was my first time travelling alone and it was definitely a worthwhile experience.

Lingering Garden留园

The Lingering Garden is located a mere 4 bus stops away from my grandparent’s house so I caught to bus there, and walked home after.

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Walking inside was like walking straight into a maze. Outside each room was a different garden, and the gardens were connected to each other by some sort of walkway. Unfortunately I didn’t have a map, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to read the Chinese characters so I basically walked around the entire 23,310m2 garden without a clue where I was headed next.

I can’t begin to describe how stunning the gardens were; I could stay there forever and soak up the beauty of the place. The atmosphere was peaceful and serene and it’s the perfect environment to sit, read and contemplate life. It’s also the perfect go-to-place for anyone who needs to de-stress, or spend quality time alone.

I loved walking on the bridge because it made me feel as if I was transported back in time to a dynasty depicted in any of my favourite period dramas. For those who’ve never seen a period drama, there are so many scenes where the Emperor, Empress, or any of the Emperor’s concubines and his/her entire entourage takes a relaxing stroll through the beautiful gardens to admire the newly blossomed flowers or appreciate the picturesque scenery.

Tiger Hill虎丘

Tiger Hill is famous for its “Cloud Rock Pagoda”, a vast seven-storey tower that leans north. It was erected in the Northern Song Dynasty and has been leaning for over a millennium. The pagoda has a height of 47.68 meters and tilts 2.34 meters northeast.

This is the description provided on a nearby rock:

“Built in the year 959A.D as a Buddhist pagoda, it is a seven-storey brick building designed in wood structure, and also the earliest octagon-shaped pagoda now known to be extant.

In 1961, this landmark in the Suzhou section of the Grand Canal was enlisted as a major cultural heritage protected at the national level.”

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For all the superstitious people out there, this story is for you. Apparently, pregnant women and their partners came here to “discover” the gender of their future child. If you something (a smaller rock? I can’t remember the specific object) and it lands safely on the rock, you’ll be blessed with a son; if the object bounces off and lands on the ground you’ll give birth to a daughter.

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This pavilion was originally called “ Chamber of Emperor’s Handwriting” in the Song Dynasty and “Miao Zhuang Yan’s Pavilion” in the Yuan Dynasty. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a fire and in the 28th year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign of Qing Dynasty (1689 AD), it was rebuilt. When Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong (both legendary Emperors) stayed on the Tiger Hill, they left their handwritings.

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