April 2016 – Suzhou, China
If you ask me where my favourite place is in this world, I would say home. Home is where you feel the most at ease, a place where you can really put your feet up and be surrounded by love. Growing up I have always wanted to leave home, and to explore the big wide world out there, away from nagging parents. But as I grew older, I noticed that I craved the company of my parents more and more, treasuring all the love they have given me all these years.
Some last minute holiday came up earlier this month and I decided to take up the chance to visit my parents again. Little did I know what I had left behind were lands rich of culture, beauty and peace.
Jiangnan (江南) is very well known in China for it’s rich culture for thousands of years, and we are lucky that many of these villages are still preserved to this day. I think of them as tiny Venice of the east. A typical village would have a main stream that becomes the spine, with many that extends outwards.
The village I visited was called Luzhi (甪直). It’s a preserved village just outside of Suzhou. My parents had often driven past this place and recommended it to be for the longest time. Bed was always more inviting to me than being outside in the cold so I missed it time and time again. Spring must bring something out of us, like blossoms. We woke up super early to catch the morning mist and the peaceful streets, before all the shops and travelers filled the streets. The other benefit is that we get to have super yummy noodles and wontons that were special to this area.
Besides it’s narrow streets and shops, the government has also built a traditional Chinese garden, for people to stroll in. Often you can find people playing traditional chinese instruments or practicing taichi.
The best thing about spring is the blossoms that filled the streets and parks. It just makes you smile from the inside.
I loved this cute little shop towards the edge of town. The shop owner made lots of effort to attract people towards it. Everything inside were authentic little gems, hand crafted. If I was more talented, I would love to open a shop like this, making accessories and enjoy the blissful day.
The village itself had many little side alley ways connecting the main street, a place to escape when the day gets busier. Sometimes I think reality gets the better of us, whether it’s work, relationships or others. We are constantly on our feet, 24/7. It’s so refreshing and so important to take time every now and then to switch off from the world, enjoy what life is really about, and re-focus on what is most important to us.
It was such a relaxing morning that I didn’t mind waking up early for. It reminded me that there are still so many hidden gems I have yet to discover.
I have remembered this village. Thank you for reminding me to slow down and that we shouldn’t always be seeking what we don’t have, but rather take time to appreciate what life has given to us.
With that concludes my spring trip to Suzhou Ch 1. More to come as I explore what else spring has install for me!