This can be considered to be my official first trip for the year 2007. The last few months have been in winter hiberation state; with the weekends spent between shopping and visiting book stores. I have not been to the train station since last year November. So today officially marks the continuation of my travel adventure around the Jiangnan (Area south of the Chang Jiang river).
I left the hotel around 8.20am and took a 25 minutes walk to the centre bus station. Board a bus 83 from there to the Plum Garden. The bus is packed with human traffic and a small dispute erupted between the passengers. I noticed several of them carrying flowers and this bus actually passes by cemetaries along the way, so I guess they are there for the annual ancestor memorial service. Though I can easily hail a cab there, but I really enjoy taking the bus. Can catch a lot of sights along the way and also deeply feel the experience as one of the locals.
Arrived there an hour later, no thanks to the heavy traffic along the way - everyone there to do their annual ancestor memorial service. Below is the entrance to the Plum Garden. The ticket fee cost 30RMB.
Here is the first sight past the entrance. Spring time is here and gardens visit will play a predominant travel interest at this time of the year.
It is also the year of the pig. There are lots of beautifully laid out flower beds in the garden. For a moment it might lead visitors to think they are fake flowers, but they are the real stuff.
A small terrace decoration with flower beds surrounding it.
Here are the plum flowers which coincidentally has opened to its peak at this time. The Plum Festival starts from end of last month to around this period.
As I proceeded up the path to the left of the entrance. I came upon a small pagoda up a hill and took a shot at the picturesque view from there. The day is slightly foggy, and thus any sights beyond a 500m parimeter may not be visible.
Going down the hill, there is a Chinese temple. It cost 3RMB to enter the temple grounds. There are 4 halls in all in this temple. The picture below shows the second hall. The first hall has the 4 heavenly kings which is the official temple entrance, the third hall is the Hall of Great Strength. And the final hall should be where the monks hold their meetings, but it is empty now and has a painting of a great master in there. I find the final hall to be extremely quiet and peaceful. While walking around the Plum Garden, I still hear the sounds of vehicles throughout. But it is in this hall that it is absolute silent that visitors can even hear a pin drop, very impressive. With much reluctance I have to take my leave from the temple grounds.
While walking out of the temple grounds, I came upon a vegetarian restaurant.
Just nice it is coming close to lunch time at 11.30am and I have not taken any vegetarian crusine in China before. So I just order their main recommendations - 福惠双憎面. Quite an impressive name. It cost 8RMB for it. While queueing to take my order, I notice there are several basins which is used for washing. I memorised the phrase above the basins as I think it will be useful to recall when I go for meditation retreats in the future, especially those retreats which require its participants to wash plates - 一清，二洗，三消毒.
The noodles are really great. Think it is one of the best meal in Wuxi. It has been a long time since I have taken a full vegetarian meal.
From here on I will share a few photos of the flowers I have taken while strolling around the garden.
I quite like the scene below. Reminds me of a Japanese temple with Cherry blossoms.
Thereafter was a 20 minutes hike up a small mountain and back down. This is really a warm up for future mountain hiking trips. Once back down, I proceeded to the main garden fields where beds of flowers are cultivated.
There is also a mini-greenhouse at one of the corner of the flowers field.
One section of the flower garden is based on flowers and buildings of Holland. So there is a windmill in there.
And also the famous Holland's clogs. Visit my trip to Holland in my Europe Trips 2004. They definitely have made this section feel very much like Holland.