The Regensburg Cathedral

The Regensburg Cathedral is tucked between the Danube and Regen Rivers in Bavaria, Germany in the town of Regensburg. Here the Regensburg Cathedral has sat since approximately 700 A.D. The Cathedral, has been built, worked on, and rebuilt ever since this time with a recent restoration having been completed in 2006. Dedicated to St. Peter, the cathedral is a prominent fixture in Regensburg and is a great example of gothic architecture.

One of the unique things about the cathedral is the fact that there is a state run workshop near the church which is responsible for the upkeep of the building. All of the tools used are made right in the workshop. The workshop uses one of the towers called the Eselsturm to hoist materials up and down to areas in the higher part of the cathedral. In the west side of the church, there is a pulley that aids in the transportation of the materials.

Tucked between the Danube and Regen Rivers in Bavaria, Germany you will find the town of Regensburg where the Regensburg Cathedral has sat since approximately 700 A.D. Or, some form of it, as the cathedral has been rebuilt and restored many times throughout the years. The Cathedral, has been built, worked on, and rebuilt ever since this time with a recent restoration completed in 2006. Dedicated to St. Peter, the cathedral is a prominent fixture in Regensburg and is a great example of gothic architecture.

One of the unique things about the cathedral is the fact that there is a state run workshop near the church which is responsible for the upkeep of the building. All of the tools used in the maintenance are made right in the workshop. The workshop uses one of the towers called the Eselsturm to hoist materials up and down to areas in the higher part of the cathedral. In the west side of the church, there is a pulley that aids in the transportation of the materials.

The Gothic architecture of the Regensburg Cathedral, or the “Kathedrale St. Peter or Regensburger Dom” as it is called in German lends itself to various stone carvings and statues. One of the more prominent carvings on the western pillars is that of Mary and the angel Gabriel who appears to be laughing. Mary appears to be greeting the angel. The carving dates to around 1280.

Built for the Bishop Hartwig II’s burial, the cathedrals has an “All Saints’ Chapel” which was built around 1164. Also to be found in the beautiful cathedral are stained glass windows dating from 1220 all the way to the late 1300’s. Some of the windows on the west side were not finished until the mid to late 1900’s. The Regensburg Cathedral also houses the Regensburger Domspatzen (the “cathedral sparrows” a choir). The choir is known and recognized throughout Bavaria, and music and religion are very important to the German culture. The cathedral itself is the principal church of the Regensburg diocese. Several Bishops are buried at the cathedral: Johann Michael von Sailer, Konrad Eberhard, Georg Michael Wittmann, Michael Buchberger, Philipp Wilhelm.

The Passion Play of berammergau

The Oberammergau Passion Play – A History

In 1633, residents of a small town in Bavaria vowed that if their town was spared from the plague, they would honor God by putting on a “Passion Play” every ten years. Very few of the townspeople died from the plague that year. The people of the town were so grateful that they were spared the ugliness and death of the plague that they honored their promise and put on the very first Oberammergau Passion and devotional play in 1634.

Ever since the town was saved from the ravishes of the bubonic plague, they have kept their end of the bargain and put on a spectacular Passion Play. Displaying their loyalty to the God that saved them, the tribute has been reenacted by the citizens of Oberammergau ever since the mid 1600’s with few exceptions.

Originally the play was put on in a small chapel in the village. After about four or five plays, the news about the production was passed on to other towns around the area and soon more and more people were coming to watch the play. The play had to be moved to a bigger area so that there was enough room to accommodate all of the visitors.

After a hundred years or so of productions, again the area grew too small to fit all of the people that were coming every two years to watch the play. It was then moved to a field near to the cemetery. It wasn’t until the early to mid 1800’s that stages started being made for the actors to act out the play. Around then, a permanent stage was built.

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that an actual theatre was built. With the idea and knowledge that people were coming to Oberammergau to experience the passion play from all over the world, a permanent fixture of a theatre was long over due. It has gone through some renovations and upgrades to date, now seating almost 4700 people. The theater is now well equipped to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of visitors that come each decade.

What the Passion Play is all about…

One of the most fascinating facts about the Passion Play in Oberammergau is the fact that the cast is all from the town of Oberammergau itself. I mean literally, the town revolves around the decade by decade production of the play. Over 2000 residents of Oberammergau participate in the production! Can you imagine 2000 of the residents of your town coming together to put on a play? This dedication to tradition and religion is really a testament to
Bavaria’s culture.

The cast of the play work for an amazing ten months or so before the opening night of the productions. Not only that, but after opening night, the play goes on for around 5 months! This is definitely a big commitment by residents of a small Bavarian town.

As you may know, the play is a representation of Jesus’ journey from the time he enters Jerusalem, through his crucifixion, and ending after he is risen. It is an emotional and physical experience not only for the actors, but for the audience as well. The unforgettable and moving music adds to the overall presentation of the play as well.
There is over 2 hours of brilliant music that takes place during the production. Performed by a 60 piece orchestra, the participants and the audience alike are moved by the marvelous noise that can be heard. Originally written in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s by Rochus Dedler, variations of the same score are used through today’s passion play. It is likely as well, that Dedler used inspirations of music going back to the earlier versions of the original Passion Play music to compose his version.

The Passion Continues…

Moving ahead to Oberammergau’s Passion productions of 2010 things are set to be just as spectacular and moving as usual. Preparations have already begun to make this next production be just as charming and brilliant as usual. The play is truly a magnificent work of art itself and is meant to be enjoyed by thousands every year. If you are spiritual or just curious about the spiritual side of Bavaria and Germany, the Passion Play in Oberammergau is not to be missed.

The Passau Cathedral

The Passau Cathedral is in the town known as “The city of three rivers”, Passau, Germany. The Danube, the Inn and the Ilz all come together in this beautiful Roman city were the cathedral is located. Also known as St. Stphan’s Cathedral or the “Dom St. Stephan”, the church is the seat of the catholic Bishop of Passau, the main church of the diocese, and a great example of Baroque architecture.

Several churches were erected on this spot over the centuries, beginning in the mid 700’s. The current building is over 300 feet long and was built in the mid to late 1600’s. Pieces of the previous cathedral still remain in the form of the eastern side, displaying Gothic architectural qualities. The church contains frescoes, sculptures and an overall textured style that is very pleasing, as you can see by the photo below, taken by thomasie, that displays the dome of the cathedral.

The churches popularity with tourists and church goers stems from it’s reputation of having one of the largest organs in the world. Arguably once known as having the largest, there are a few churches in the United States (First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, California and the Cadet Chapel Organ of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY) that have bigger organs.Passau Cathedral’s organ however is magnificent and boasts over 230 registers and over 17,700 pipes! The photograph below was taken by Tobi 87.

Bells are another feature of the cathedral. In fact, the cathedral has two bell towers and over nine bells. The different bells vary in weight with the largest weighing over 16,600 pounds! Another bell at the cathedral weighs over 11,600 pounds. These two bells are called the “Pummerin” which was made in 1952, and the “Sturmerin” which was made in 1733.

The Michaelskirche

St. Michael’s Church or Michaelskirche is a Renaissance – baroque style church in Munich, Germany. It was built between 1583 and 1597 by William V. Duke of Bavaria. Much to the dismay of local residents, over 80 houses were destroyed in order to build the church where the Duke wanted it. One of the stunning features of the church is it’s barrel vaulting that is more than comprises more than 60 feet. There was a damaging fire to the church in 1590, but construction resumed again and thus it was finished in 1597. Unfortunately, the church suffered quite a bit of damage during World War II. As a result there was a lot of reconstruction that needed to be done. Between 1946 and 1948, the building was restored.

Wittelsbach and King Ludwig Ties to Michaelskirche…

St. Michael’s Church has strong ties to the Wittelsbach dynasty. Duke Willhelm himself was a Wittelsbach and there is a statue of him in the church. There are also other statues that depict members of the family. The family tree of the Wittelsbach’s is cast in bronze at the church as well. The King behind the creation of Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, and Herrenchiemsee Castle,King Ludwig II of Bavaria is buried right in St. Michael’s Church. Otto of Bavaria, Maximilian I. Elector of Bavaria and William V. Duke of Bavaria all also buried at this church.

The Michaelskirche is definitely worth at least a walk by if you are in Munich. The Barrel ceiling casts a eloquent err over the church and the ability to see where King Ludwig the II of Bavaria is buried is an added bonus.

Tiananmen Square-One day can change your mind

On our first day in Beijing, we decided to walk to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Both places are icons in Chinese history, both good and bad. This post is only going to focus on Tiananmen Square and the experience walking around. There are several memorials and monuments in the square and the surrounding areas. The tower of the Forbidden City (now known as the Tower of Tiananmen Square) is located at the north and this is where the heads of state and guess watch parades and tributes to China. In the center of the square is the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The monument is engraved with the saying from Chairman Mao…….”The People’s Heroes are Immortal”.

It is also depicts the development of China in modern history. On the west side of the square is the Great Hall of the People and is where the People’s Congress holds meetings and other diplomatic activities. In the south of the square is the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao. Located in the hall is Chairman Mao himself…….and Frank says he is a nice shade of orange. On the east side of the square is the National Museum of China. The day was overcast and slightly raining but it didn’t stop the Chinese tourist basking in the glory of the square and jumping the line to see Chairman Mao. We didn’t get to go see the Chairman and drop off the basket of flowers Frank bought (okay I just made that up…….he didn’t buy flowers). We walked around the square and noticed they put up giant LED screens to broadcast commercials for Chinese Tourism. Walking around the square, I started getting a little uneasy, not from the people just the history. Earlier in the week, I typed in Tinanmen Square into Google images and it sent chills up my spine. Of course in China, Tiananmen Square is blocked as a search but I used a VPN in China……..take that Mao. In 1989, the Square was a prominent feature on world news and it wasn’t because it is beautiful. On June 4 1989, China laid down the hammer on the people. The world knows the event as Tiananmen Square Massacre but officially it is called the June Fourth Incident (funny how China sees it as just an incident). In 1989, several communist governments fell and Chinese students and intellectuals thought it would be a good time to see if China was wanting to change………..No it wasn’t. The protest started with the death of pro-democracy, anti corruption official, Hu Yaobang. About 100,00 mourners showed up at the square on the Eve of his funeral which was in April.

The protest lasted for several weeks until the Government decided for the people that was enough. Most of what happened on June 4th actually took place outside of the square on the surrounding streets. One of the most iconic images of the late 20th century is “Tank Man”. One student, said to be Wang Weilin, walked in front of the oncoming tanks and refused to get out of the way. At one point, he climbed on top of the tank to talk to one of the soldiers, climbed down, and began to run away. He was whisked away by a group of people and never seen again…… make up your own story about his disappearance. It wasn’t this image that kept coming into my head but another photograph I saw. The army was told to retake Tiananmen Square by 6 am. One of the photos on line shows what it means to take back the square by 6 am. I am not going to describe the photograph but it still hasn’t left my head. To everyone reading this from other nations, I know the US has had its bad times and we are not innocent. There are several incidents in our history that are just as tragic…..slavery for one, the massacre of millions of Native Americans is another. The message I am trying to get across is how utterly tragic and horrible we as people can be……at what cost do we cease being human and become expendable. This is what was in my head as we walked across the Square. It was also on this day that I wanted to come home to the US and not face any more history. On a final note, the motto of the Chinese army is “Serve the People”.

The Giant Fishbowl-AKA Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

I love aquariums and if a city has one, I am there. So, I have been wanting to venture over to the Aquarium since we got here 4 months ago but just never made it. I tried to get Frank to go with me but it was 11am and he was sound asleep (snoring too). Another big plus is it is easy to get to on line 2 of the metro. You need to get off at Lujaizui and go towards exit 1. At the top of the metro exit, just look to the left and you will see it. Okay enough tour guide stuff, let’s visit the aquarium. Honestly, I thought it would be larger but it still rocked.

You start at the top which is the China/Asia area and some of the fish were………okay odd. I kept looking at what I thought was just a big, long rock but it actually was a Giant Salamander (no wonder the little girl was shoving me to move). It was easier to see it when I looked through the bottom of the exhibit. This is an extremely endangered animal and from what I was reading, not many left in the wild. Another crazy thing about this aquarium is the exhibit glass, plexiglass, or acrylic only goes half way up so the fish are subjected to the prying hands of the Chinese. Yes, there is a sign that says not to put your hands in the water but it says nothing about poking the fish between its eyes (it’s clever how they can get around things). There are two other signs in the aquarium, Do Not Use a Camera Flash and Do Not Tap the Glass. I know what you are thinking……..but it doesn’t say anything about using your fist to pound on the glass. Yes, that is the technique used to get the fish’s attention and it seems pretty effective or maybe it just stuns them for a moment. I don’t know which was more fun watching, the fish just blankly looking into space or the frustration on the faces of the Chinese pounding on the glass. Sorry, I got lost in the moment. The Layout of the Aquarium is simple, start at the top and go down. You travel through several different areas and end up in the Ocean. I didn’t like the moving sidewalk in the Ocean area because it seems to confuse the Chinese…….should I stay on it….no I need to get off….hold on let me back on…..move…..wait I didn’t get to see that fish…….move……..I need to get off……….move………I think you get the picture. Overall, I have to say this was a very fun day and I will definitely go back before leaving. Some things to look for when you visit, the super rare Nikon phone fish which was swimming next to the fake crocodile. Also check out the uhmmm…..slow bull shark with the buck teeth (yes I know the sharks teeth normally stick out but he had some dental issues) and big red eyeball. I tried to get some photos of these rare aquatic creatures but they didn’t want to stop swimming so I could take their picture. Two things you might want to consider when visiting the Aquarium, don’t go on the weekend (crowds) and take an IPod (extremely loud).

Teaching young Chinese kids bad english and other fun tricks

I am making a post two days in a row……….there must be something in the water. Of course there’s something in the water, we are in China after all. One of the easiest ways for English speaking people to make money in China is to tutor. You can go through a service who hires you out to people (yes it does sound a bit like prostitution) or you can put up a flyer advertising your services (yes this sounds a bit like prostitution too). Of course, I didn’t do either. I was walking back to my room after breakfast one day and a lady stopped me and asked if I spoke English. At first, I just thought she needed someone to translate but she asked if I would be willing to tutor. This wasn’t a hard question to answer because I know the money tutors make. Her next question to me “Which country am I from” and when I said USA, her response “Oh Good.” See the Chinese really do like us. At first, I thought there would be only one student but when I showed up later in the day, the one student had grown to three students. I am not complaining because I really like the three children. My preconceived notion was the children would be very well behaved but in typical kid fashion, they were bouncing off the walls. I think children are all the same around the world and it’s only when we become adults things change (maybe kids should run things for a change). Most tutor sessions are for an hour to two hours long and pay is pretty good by Chinese standards. I tutor the three children twice weekly and paid 400 rmb. Normally, you can live off of 400 rmb in a week (excluding rent, utilities, phone) and have money left over. The more students you tutor the more money you can make. Because we are in school, I did not want to work more than twice weekly. With all the boring information out of the way, I would like to introduce to the world GoGo, Tony, and Alice. GoGo is the comedian of the bunch and has a really good heart. Tony is the brain of the but has a tendency to be an instigator. Then there is Alice……poor sweet Alice. She takes a lot from the two boys so I try to help her give it back to them. Alice is quiet and a bit shy but lets go every once in a while. Just so you know which kid is which, they always sit in the same seat, from the left it’s GoGo, Tony, and Alice. I am really glad I got to have this experience and will really miss the kids when I am back in the US. If you plan to be in China for any length of time and have a few hours to spare on a weekly basis, my suggestion is to tutor. Oh yeah, don’t forward this to the IRS, they don’t like it when people make money.

Suzhou-Frank and Terry’s most Excellent Adventure

Recently, we traveled to Suzhou which is just outside of Shanghai. You can travel to Suzhou by bus or rail and as of July 1st 2010 by the new speed rail system. We went by the D Train or fast train and it took a little over 30 minutes to get there. The train station is well………..let just say you need to learn to say OOOO (No). You hit the gates and all of the vendors smell fresh meat. One of the saddest examples of pushy vendors was at the top of the street when 2 men dressed as Buddhist Monks tried to get us to purchase a booklet for 10 Yuan. They went as far as to try to put it in our pockets or bags………very sad first impression of the city. Next, we decided to walk to the Beisi Pagoda which was originally built between the years of 1131 and 1162 (freaky huh). It is one of the tallest Pagoda’s reaching 243 feet tall and is one of the last standing wooden Pagodas. Frank and I had the bright idea of climbing the stairs to the top……..uhmm thankfully we brought a little Johnson & Johnson with us. I’m not ashamed to admit I am a frequent user of baby powder. When we started climbing, one thing you notice is all the graffiti on the walls. Of course most of it is Mandarin but sometimes you saw some English. Once at the top, you normally are able to see the city but we had a very hot muggy day and a lot of haze. It was still a very beautiful place and well worth the sweat.

We stayed in the Pingjiang district at a really nice hostel called Suzhou Joya International. The hostel itself is a historical home that used to belong to the Pang family of Suzhou and is in the canal area of the historical area. Our room opened up to the garden area which was really nice in the morning (More about this area later). After settling in we traveled to the Humble Administrators Garden. The garden is a classic example of Chinese garden landscape and is highly revered as one of the best examples of Wu gardens still left in China. The garden covers a approximately 52,000 sq meters or about 13 acres. It is a little overwhelming and as you can imagine extremely crowded. There are lots of group tours with their leaders talking into a bullhorn……….which says traditional Chinese garden to me. There is so much in this garden it is hard to talk about it all. One very important part of a traditional Chinese garden is the view it will create. You will travel along winding pathways and zigzag bridges (good Qi). In one spot, we noticed some of the largest Koi fish we have seen, one of them was a real brute. After walking through the garden, we wanted to go see the Suzhou Museum which was designed by one of China’s most famous architects I.M. Pei but it was closed. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the museum because it is located in the historic area. To me, the design fits in with the surrounding area. It is a very modern building but pays close attention to the historical elements like the roof lines and the use of black and white. Frank is planning on going back with Amy and he did say he is going to go inside. So look for more pictures to come. You may also be wondering who the other 2 individuals are in some of the photos…….they are Su and Reenal and attend Bauhaus. It was a lot of fun to travel with them and glad we all have become friends.

Great Wall of China-A 6 Mile Trek into

There is a saying in Beijing………If you don’t step onto the Great Wall, you are not a man. Well, I think we became men/women several times over this day. One of the things we wanted to do is climb the Great Wall and that is just what we did. First of course is a brief history of the Great Wall (entertaining and educating…….that’s what we are about). The Chinese began building the Wall in the Spring and Autumn period or 8th Century BC…….yep that’s right BC. Of course the intention was to keep out invaders from the northern part of China. The Great Wall stretches approximately 5,500 miles and consist of sections of wall, trenches, and natural hills and mountains. A lot of the Wall has been destroyed either naturally or by development. Prior to the Wall becoming a national treasure, local villages would use stones from the Wall to build their homes and roads. It has also been written you are able to see the Great Wall in outer space. I tend not to believe this for one reason……….Beijing is the most polluted city in the world. It is hard to see 3 blocks down the road let alone a wall from outer space. Our group traveled to a newly opened section of the wall in Badaling. This is an area is called the North Pass or Juyongguan Pass and is the most visited section of the Great Wall. If you feel like an adventure and want to see the wall in its more natural state, do not go to the tourist area of the Wall. The pictures most people see of the Wall are from the restored sections. The section of the Wall we visited was design to resemble a dragon, had 9 towers, and the head of the dragon and partially restored. Before beginning our climb, our guide (let me sidetrack for a moment………our guide was probably around 18 years old, taught himself English, and does this climb at least 5 times a week….the man was a machine) told us about the first section which had been destroyed between the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Trying to conquer the Qing dynasty, the Ming dynasty tried to find the best place to invade and went to the local farmers who showed the warriors the lowest part of the Wall. You can see where the Wall was completely destroyed in this area and clearly separated into different sections. When we arrived, it was cold and misty and everyone decided to put more clothes on……..all I can say is BIG MISTAKE! Next our little guide (yes he was little but a powerhouse) told us that we would be walking up to the first tower which was completely restored. When we got to the top of the first tower, let’s just say I was physically whipped. I started thinking it would be wise to start some form of exercise program when I got back to the US but for now it was a bit too late. Our guide gathered the group together and begin a his speech………If you thought that was hard and you don’t think you can continue, go back to the bus now. Part of me said go back to the bus but thankfully the other part of me won out and said no you can finish (I was a bit mad at that part for a while till my legs just went numb then I didn’t care). Two people took him up on his offer and went back to the bus (don’t do it, seriously you will be pissed). Our group consisted of 4 to 6 marathon runners who wanted to see how fast they could get to the end (don’t do it seriously, you will be pissed). We began our trek to the next Tower and all I can say is………WOW. We got lucky because it was misting and was around 21 celsius (70 farenheit) which made the hike an experience. Looking over the side of the Wall, you can tell why the Chinese decided to build the Wall…….the Mongolian side was basically straight down about 500 to 700 feet while the Chinese side was maybe a 5 foot drop. Our visibility was really low but for me it added to the experience. Also during the hike, the Chinese army was doing military drills firing weapons which also added to the entire experience (I got a little bit deep and just tried to put myself into a different time period and began thinking it was during one of the invasions). During our hike, we only ran into two other groups; a family of three and a group of Chinese workers restoring the wall (I got a picture of them). Of course the Wall has it’s tragic parts. When building the Wall, food and water was scarce and a lot of workers died. Instead of burying the dead, the Chinese just built the wall over top of them so it is also a graveyard. Sorry to end on such a creepy note but it is worth noting. Here is my advice; if you are out of shape and hate to exercise, have back, knee or feet problems, scared of heights (Kudos to Amy for overcoming her fear), don’t like to sweat, get dirty, or scratched up, and like big crowds, do an easier part of the wall. If you like an adventure and want to have a once in a lifetime experience and no crowds, do a section of the Great Wall like we did.

Frank and Terry’s most Excellent Adventure Part Deux

Here is the second part of our weekend adventure. The area we stayed in was the Pingjiang district of Suzhou. This is the historical part of Suzhou and a definite must to visit. We walked around in the evening which was a smart idea (I am sure I had it). The street transformed into one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

The canal is lit at night and you can see bats flying over top catching bugs. Like in other water towns, the area is still mainly residential with local restaurants and commercial spaces. I tried to take as many pictures as possible of the canal and people walking along, it was truly amazing. The hostel guided us to a local restaurant Pin Von which specialized in local Suzhou dim sum (You have to try the leek dumplings). Along the canal, there are several historical buildings which have been restored and one by Tongji University. The building originally was a sanitation building and by around the year 2000 created so much pollution in the canal the government decided to shut it down and do some clean up. The original concrete structure still stands but it’s the facade you notice. They used stone blocks to create the skin and created a really nice pattern for light and the building now houses a local restaurant. Another adaptive use of space is Zhuyuan Hall. We first just walked by the building but noticed an architectural model in the window and went in. The space has been completely updated but kept in mind the importance of the traditional architecture. Inside you will find a small bookstore, cafe, reading room, and hotel…..yes that’s right a 4 room hotel (Yeah I know 4 rooms does not make a hotel). If you are ever in Suzhou and have 400 yuan laying around, you might want to stay at the Archi-Garden bookstore and cafe. One final place was the Momi (Cat) Cafe. This is a clever idea for a business and by Su’s photo, you can see he really wanted to stay.

They sell drinks, books, and postcards. What makes it stand out is the slots in the wall with every month and day of the year. You buy postcards, fill them out, buy the postage from the bar, and put it in the slot for the day and month you want it sent. It’s a great idea for special occasions when you want to really surprise someone.
The next day we went to visit our professor from UNCC Zhongjie Lin. His wife has an architecture firm in Suzhou and he was kind enough to show us around. Two of our fellow students are working at the firm, Mark Pelz and Ryan Shaban…..(pretty sweet deal). Zhongjie showed us the newer parts of Suzhou which is along the lake and the Suzhou Industrial Park. Just a side bar, his wife has done some of the landscape architecture in this area. A couple of notable places he showed us was Harmony Square and Suzhou Science and Culture Arts Center. Harmony Square is a big commercial space with shops and restaurants but was dead when we were there. Only after 5 pm, does the place begin to fill up. Over top of the shopping area is a massive LED screen that is about 300 meters long (984 feet for those meter impaired). I wanted to see it lit up but it normally doesn’t come on till dusk. Now for the Suzhou Science and Culture Arts Center, let’s see how do I put this……..hmmmmm. The building was designed by Studio 505 from Melbourne Australia and seems to take traditional Chinese window pane patterns to the extreme. I am not sure if that was their intention but the covered walkways eludes to that idea. The space is to embody everything that is Suzhou but just seems to want to do too much.

After spending the afternoon with Zhongjie, we went back to Pingjiang district. Frank and I decided to walk down to the Twin Pagodas at the Luohanyuan Temple. The temple garden is a little overgrown but still very nice. What is pretty amazing is the stone carvings lining the walls. I tried to take a picture of each of the plaques so you can see the meaning. Also the Lions guarding the entry are supposedly the originals. As I was walking out, I noticed the carvings over the exit. Whether they are original or not, the thought that someone at one point created the carvings was enough for me. It is sad to think that at one point this beauty was destroyed because it was a reminder of the past.

I get told I am never in the photos or in the videos but you can hear me. Well, I am in the photos today. There is an interesting photo of us all at Harmony Square but I honestly do not know what is up with Frank. Also, I have been accused of making the little Chinese girl cry at the train station but you can tell in the photos, the girl beside me is laughing along with her. As soon as she turns and looks at the couple across from us…….the tears and screaming start (Yeah I said it Su). For some reason, I always get blamed when bad things happen……but now I have proof it wasn’t me.