I don’t know if the competition between Kequiao, but certainly it’s Shaoxing a small city of beauty to follow around between its quaint port ways, while old ‘junks’ move with ease.
The plastered white-walls of the buildings are falling, and it gives this City that effect of the old, mixedsmartly with the new. Lights at night are in brilliant colors of yellow, red and green-lights of neon that engulfs the eyesight. I am conquered. I am in love with places of history and culture. While fireworks go off at any time of the day!
Walking between the ‘Lu’/Road remind me easily of Holland or Italy. However, this is the Far East, a place more special, because it is none European. The focus is on the celebration of life. Characterized by immense pagodas, statue of dragons that represent power or dignity and traditional Chinese architecture to say, you are here and may fall enamored with the place.
There is an easy to hear celebration on every corner. Can something be loved so intently? With shops to showoff beauty in women, gentlemen and with all the consumerist cycles of a society finding its own way, like a cliché from Sun Tzu. As I notice a beautiful girl in the park, I stand-up and look. Thank goodness I have my shades, give a smile and complete “Zao zhang hao!”
It is still morning in this City, while the West is going to sleep. Will I love this place like home? That is a question only to be answered in the future. But there is something special, that’s for sure, a constant vibration of life. It’s not just in prose, I promise. More than passion, the Orient is buzzing!
Follow and you will notice that feeling when a city has what it takes to be enjoyed by easily any foreigner or easterner. You have awoken little “grasshopper” into a new world. To dream at the outskirts of the City and looking at the rose gardens, it’s fun to dream of what is grand. The Canals that are flowing to find in history that China will always search for high mountains and waterways to define how great it is; these are precious things to the Chinese. And at the turn of a corner, there is love of spring in the air or future hot-summer days coming along, while a couple is holding hands, not often seen in China. While there is a path following along the waterways to the highest temples, waterfalls and monasteries.
The way to ride this small City it’s through the throws and waterways to be engulfed in the magnetic beauty of its gardens and forested paths to travel uphill. No journey is complete without being able to travel up hill or mountain. And when this City comes to life, it shines! Like the former residence of King Yue, Fushan Park holds walkways to the Observation Tower, Pavilions and residences build nearly 2,500 years before. Such an ancient-culture cannot be describe that easily without stating the facts, Easterners are old, while Westerners are new. What holds impressive to its history, it is the way China holds proudly to its own and don’t tell them differently.
They may be trying to be Western, and in being ancient they are special. This is a society where the new intermixes with the old. The ancient is always in the center or at the outskirts, focusing with pride on the beauty that they hold so dear.
Fushan has an Eastern entrance or rokuo when coming from Shenli Xilu. The latter road holds literally the entrance to the City with romantic canals, wooden chairs to sit and rest. Greater yet, are the crumbling foundations that for being so old, they need constant repair through the protection of archeologist. To sit, take a breather and watch the
beautiful women it is part of the grand scheme of things. Saying “Hello” to everybody is not to feel lonely. Therefore, one must learn to be friendly and quick! There is this feeling like an actor feels when they are getting so much attention. I am no George Clooney, and the attention feels good!
Rare are the foreigners that one sees in small cities, and still we all come here for one reason, learn about China and hopefully learn Chinese. The Eastern Entrance has an embankment, frequently used by small boats to transport tourist around the luscious scenery of green and flowers. A great time to travel, since not yet, the canals are not frozen; and winter is long away. The walk is through bamboo paths, shutters of flowers, trees and stone-paths to guide. The entire compound still has a surrounding wall and places where soldiers had their arrows pointed and ready in case of attack.
These strategic-emplacements where also the highest point for vigilance against the enemy, built for protection and fighting any foe: “For those that have the higher ground, have the advantage in battle.” – Sun Tzu (The Art of War). It was an area to protect one’s king, a strong forted wall that presently can fill the eyes with impressions.
And although forested, from above the walk paths give an easy access and view to the lower portions. Personally, the wall is intimidating. A grey structure, with few pastel colors, since long ago this was a warrior-society, one to serve and protect until death!
To travel the area is to go in circles. With gardens to be admired more than once; people are out in the park in full swing! Repeating the walk around... I am getting my overdose of “Hellos”.
Representing what would be like home, a long-holiday weekend; everybody is nice and courteous. They are with their families trying to catch a breeze of relaxation, before the Monday rush of things comes again.
Finding the path, it will easy be a guide into the Western exit or chukuo. This one is a more elegant spot and honestly, a much more beautified-point of entrance and guided-reference. The ancient towers are around, all over the park, as a matter of fact. This exit is a quick lead back into Shenli Xilu; however, try to find your way into Jiefang Beilu. A cosmopolitan Avenue or zone for shopping and to have an off-day to rekindle all bodily energy, not as relaxing, but bustling with movement, hope and life. Then, there is that moment to sit, relax and enjoy a coffee or tea. That moment is breathed in and then returning back to the Park. It doesn’t stop here the adventure is to feel part of something that is vibrant and constantly growing.
It can be felt in the air! The return to the Park is to walk along its ‘great wall’, forested areas and plastered-white washed buildings. Watching what is green and natural, it never stops. There is always time for another return. Maybe another day, another time, but a quick return; wondering why I didn’t come here sooner, and like my friend Irene always says in her philosophical-Chinese manner, “A frog that only has a view from the bottom of the well, cannot see the rest of the scenery.” So I sit and study and hope for another day to see more.
What makes this place so devilishly interesting is the tomorrow. The adventure of the curious, even when no Chinese is spoken, is the world anew, like through the eyes of a baby. The bao bao [or infant] walks with new legs: touching, tasting and learning from everything and everybody. That is what Shaoxing has to offer, more than a tour, a stay along the canals and waterways of a lovely-City.
To criticize ‘her’ would be my fault, to not know more, would be my lost. Many Chinese will ask, “What do you think about our City?” I give the smile of a charlatan and tell them, “I will let you know about it tomorrow. For now, Shaoxing is a like a lady and this fantasy I will live it inside my heart.” Today is today, and tomorrow is tomorrow.
1) Fushan Park opens everyday from 0700 to 1730 hours. Best time to cruise or tour the Park, morning time. Well now, there are less people.
2) Best way to know the City? Walk it. The Center is certainly a lot of fun. Start at the Bus Station. Move from West to East of the City. Taxis go for 5 Yuan, one way, less than $0.70. Another method is the bus system. It’s crowded, because as you well know, Chinese are many! However, moving through the bus system cost about 1 Yuan
(around $0.07, USD) each way. Daytime bus numbers are: 3, 22, 66 and 77. At night, only number 22 bus is in function after 1800 hours across Shenli Xilu. Service for bus routes end around 2200 hours. Thank you Jennifer, for your guidance and directions. Could not have done it without you; especially while touring and visiting the City alone.
3) Carry your address or hotel card with you. It’s a way to get around the City without hassles and if you don’t speak Chinese, it’s a way of helping you get back to your destination or place of stay.
4) Like any City, “Never leave home without it.” Common sense that is…
5) Best time to see the City, at night. It’s gorgeously lighted, like a well-dressed beautiful woman, from top to bottom. Here is where your best pictures will stand-out after 1830 hours.
Dedicated to my friend Irene… For not letting me ever give up, even when I was frustrated and behaving with an attitude of a big-baby.
By Daniel Otero
Company: TEFL, Zhuji, China