Impromptu garden play - Zhouzuang

I am in Suzuo, which is a "water town" that dates back 2500 years. There is an intricate canal system which served as a critical artery for commerse in this province during the Sui dyansty. These same canals also provided security from invading tribes, much like a moat around a castle. Today the commerse comes in and out by way of deisal spewing 18-wheelers, and the canals have been relegated to a mundane side-show tourist attraction. I would love to report that the "old ways" are still in favor here, but the truth is that China seems to be plowing at lightning speed into the modern age. That means tearing down walled cities to make room for ugly concrete high rises, damning rivers and flooding ancient villages to generate power for the west-coast industrial towns, and basically treating the environment like a disposible wet nap. It's quite disturbing. Greenpeace, come in Greenpeace...

Today, I sat in a 12th century Chinese water garden. Perfect symmetry: water, trees, moss, and rocks. For a couple of hours while perched on a rock cropping, Ry Cooder and Ali Farke Toure chanted and strummed on my Ipod, and I sat still, letting my eyes go in and out of focus, peering out at the late afternoon rain drops hitting the pond and splashing off the water lillies. A giant poi was making his laps around the pond, languid and deliberate, obviously "the big fish in the little pond." It was an ethereal moment...

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