(Ed. note: Lots of photos today. By tomorrow, there will be even more at our Flickr site! They are well worth the visit – Terry took all of them).
First, a weather report. This past weekend, it was beautiful–sunny, clear skies and warm–10 C on Saturday and 14 on Sunday. Forsythia is in bloom in our complex, and this afternoon, gardenias near the front entrance had taken off. Pretty amazing for January, considering that today, an icy wind is blowing down from the north and it is back to being ccccccold. In the meantime, though, we were able to get out and walk and see parts of Jiaxing that were new to us.
Earlier last week, Geoff had walked back from Metro and written about the store and the sights near-by. This time, both of us went, camera in hand. See the pictures of topiary women dancing–in person, they seem so lively! I can’t wait till spring when this creation is in summer greens.
Next, we came upon a construction site. The pictures illustrate how many things are done in China. You can see that the walls on this building were complete; then, holes were punched through to create walkways from one building to the next. So often, we see buildings where the approach seems more afterthought than planned construction. Things such as outlets and hoses for air conditioners, holes punched to install pipes for balcony drainage, parts cut off to make something fit. Some of the newer buildings have boxes built to hold and hide external A/C units, which makes a big difference to the final appearance of the complex. Anyway, across the street from this particular building is Phase One and is it nice! Possibly in Padua in Northern Italy we saw these identical free-standing columns with the winged lion on top. Pillars, arches, fountains and statuary made me think this was a replica of a place we had been before. Then I noticed the statue in the parking area: a man on horseback wearing a tri-corn hat–isn’t that American? And wait, further down the beautifully landscaped path along the waterway, was that a…windmill? Yes, indeed it was. Appropos of nothing, there it was, clearly an afterthought or someone’s whim, made out of wood when all else was stone and plaster. No matter, this was a beautiful complex, gorgeous, in fact.
Directly across the bordering canal, we were struck by the contrasting vision of peasants ( the correct term?) eking a living from the soil, as we have seen all over the city. Notice the complex in the background: 27 buildings, approximately 2800 apartments. This may be one of the largest we have noticed in Jiaxing but it is by no means unusual. In the foreground, small crops tended by hand. (see inset) Farther along the roadway, we saw the remnants of homes in the traditional Chinese style, with curved slate tiles and steps down into the water, at one time very elegant and now disintegrating. Laundry in the yards and hanging from makeshift racks told us that people live there still. Farther along, we took pictures of these happy-looking folks sunning themselves in their yard
. “We are so spoiled,” was all I could think to say. (Ed. Note: My favourite is the drop in the ramp up to the bridge deck as shown by the 6″ drop.)
At many points on our Saturday walk, we were struck by contrasts. We passed rusted, disused-looking dredging equipment and boats parked in front of a new building which might have been a school (stay in the playground, children!); we walked by recycling yards where people were pulling nails from old boards or raking plastic bottles into piles higher, by far, than themselves. Peering over fences, we spotted old mannequins and children’s rides, dumped and left to the imagination. Farther along, a mediation garden, similar to Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai, with a tea house, pagoda, water feature and garden: beautiful, calming and relaxing. No one charging admission, just an open door offering a respite from the noise of the traffic. Between this garden and the canal, we noticed the Jiaxing Greenway signs. More on this to come.