Day 15 Suzhou
June 10, 2011 (Friday)
Fifteenth day in China, third day in Suzhou: 苏州博物馆 Suzhou Museum, bus to Hangzhou, new friends & a late-night snack
Ate some crab xiaolong, spring rolls, cold noodles and plum juice at a place with wooden shutters next to a stone bridge on Pingjiang Street and walked some back streets to the Suzhou Museum. I saw lots of artifacts dug up around town, including a beautiful celadon cup in the shape of a lotus found inside the Cloud Rock Temple Pagoda, and pottery from thousands of years ago down to the present. I saw lots of painted fans on loan from Qingdao, and Buddhist statues. The center of the museum is a garden, with a sculpture of tall spindly flowers and a walkway across the water, into a bamboo thicket. The museum also contained inkstones, birdcages, and other things collected by the literati of Ming and Qing times. A kind of squarish high waterfall dripped green water by the stairs.
The museum also contained the former residence of 忠王府 Prince Zhong, a military leader of the 太平天国 Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. According to the museum, a man named Li was a peasant who joined the Taiping Army to fight the Qing imperial government, and rose through the ranks during the 1850s, becoming a general, and later a prince. Around 1860 the Taiping army defeated the Qing army in many battles, took lots of land around Suzhou and Hangzhou, established their own government, and almost drove the foreign colonizers out of Shanghai before they were finally defeated. The buildings are part of the museum, and full of documents issued by the Taiping government.
Near Guanqian road A big temple sat off the main shopping area. A heavy rain was falling, flooding the medieval-era well in front of the temple. The ground was slippery and rank, but the rain smelled fresh. I wandered back through some narrow whitewashed alleys dotted with little shops and restaurants.
Took the bus to Hangzhou.
Arrived in Hangzhou (~9:00pm) and took the bus, then a cab to Wushan Square, near my hostel, which is on Dajing Lane off Hefang Street, a shopping avenue with no cars and old-style buildings. I checked into 杭州荷方国际青年旅舍 Hangzhou Hofang International Youth Hostel, then walked around the corner looking for food. I passed under an arch and saw people eating at a restaurant with 夜宵 “late night” written over the menu. The place looked full, but the staff had more tables set up in the street. I got some beef and wonton soup. Three businessmen brought me beer to say cheers with them. 🙂