Jiangsu province -> Wuxi city
128 kilometres west of Shanghai, Wuxi lies in southern Jiangsu Province on the banks of the Jinghang Grand Canal (Jinghang dayunhe). As one of the oldest cities in China, Wuxi has a history of more than 3,000 years. Previously under the jurisdiction of Huiji prefecture, during the Zhou and Qin dynasties Wuxi was rich in natural tin, but was soon exhausted by excessive exploitation. By the early Han period, the city had already adopted its present name, which means "no tin".
Set in the heart of the fertile Yangtzi River Delta, Wuxi has developed new industries including silk production, pottery and bricks. The fishing industry has also come into its own, helped by the nearby presence of Taihu Lake.
These days, the area is attracting more and more visitors, most of them drawn to the tranquil waters of the lake and the huge buddha icon that watches over the area from close by.
| Li Garden|
|Formerly Fanli's residence and back garden, Li Garden (Li yuan) is set in front of the Hubin Hotel, on the shore of Taihu Lake. The garden is actually a spread of artificial bridges and pagodas dotted around small fishponds. The most interesting sight is the 1,000 metre long corridor that winds its way through the park. Along the way are inscriptions of ancient calligraphers. In the springtime, when the plum blossoms, the garden is often heavily crowded with local visitors.|
| Lingshan Buddha|
|25 kilometres from the city's downtown area, the Lingshan Sakyamuni Buddha (Lingshan dafo) stands solemnly at the site of famous Tang Dynasty Xiangfu Temple, which was ruined after a series of ancient wars. The bronze icon is 250 feet long, 100 feet higher than the Statue of Liberty. Entirely made of tin and copper, the statue weighs more than 700 tons. On the left side, the Shiwuwei seal is supposed to reduce suffering in the world while the Yuyuan seal on the right delivers happiness. The character on the Buddha's chest represents solemnity and virtue. With the nearby Tiahu Lake and a beautiful range of hills, the Lingshan Buddha attracts the faithful, as well as travelers, especially from Hong Kong and Japan, the former of which are said to have contributed some $150,000 towards the construction of the site. |
During Spring Festival, visitors from all over the world gather at the Xiangfu Temple to listen to the tolling of the bell, believed to bring good luck. The bell - at 3.5 metres high and weighing in at 12 tons - is the biggest in South China.
| Turtle Head Isle|
|18 kilometres southwest of Wuxi, Turtle Head Isle (Yuantouzhu) is the city's most attractive park. It is actually not an isle at all but a peninsular shaped, unsurprisingly, like the head of a turtle. A small lighthouse stands at the western tip of the park. To its north is the dock, which operates ferries to the Three Hills Isles (Sanshan) where the view of the Taihu Lake is spectacular. A visit to the park is incomplete without a stop off at the highest point - Brightness Pavilion (Guangming ding). If you get tired, enjoy the scenery of the lake from the comfort of one of the teahouses dotted along the banks.|
| Plum Garden|
|Backing on to the Dragon Hill 7 kilometres west of Wuxi, the Plum Garden (Meiyuan) is most famous for the thousands of red plum trees and flowers planted there. The garden used to be part of a small private residence during the Qing Dynasty but has since been re-landscaped and expanded to cover more than 70 thousand square metres, housing over 5,000 plum trees and 2,000 plum bonsais. The oldest specimens are said to have lived for over 100 years. There are numerous scenic spots in the garden, including the Tianxin Terrace (Tianxin tai), Meiyuan Carving Stone (Meiyuan keshi), Xiaoluo Float (Xiaoluo fu), Xiangxue Sea (Xiangxue hai), Qingfen Chamber (Qingfen xuan) and the Huoran Cave (Huoran dong). The Mei Pagoda, the highest point in the garden, offers a spectacular springtime view over the sea of red plum blossom and the Taihu Lake.|