Chinese gardens have an element of surprise; there is always more to see than what you are actually looking at. There is a history of meaning and purpose behind each design element. The gardens require you to be present in each moment; to look up, down, and all around. I was amazed by the details and the stories, the layers of history in each stone, passage way, and pagoda. Even the names of the pagodas and places in the gardens were rich with hidden meanings, connecting us to a time long ago.
The landscape elements that reoccured throughout my garden tours are…
The borrowed landscape is when neighboring or distant landscapes are used as a part of the garden in order to create an illusion of depth and distance. For example, some of the gardens I visited framed faraway pagodas with trees and rockery in the gardens. This effect made it seem as though the pagoda was actually part of the garden I was currently in.
The keyhole doorways signify a separation of space, with the intention of hiding the upcoming landscape. This feature created segmented gardens that built upon one another. Walking through so many doorways made the space feel larger, as if I was meandering through a maze. I could not see where I came from or where I was going.
The day we arrived to the wall, it was almost completely empty. Heavy clouds, fog, and mist started to roll in, creating a constantly disappearing and reappearing landscape.
Although the original intention of the wall was to be a source of security and protection from potential invaders, tourists now enjoy walking its length and climbing its heights.
Maybe it was the weather or the solitude, but I found the wall to be very poetic. I found rhythm in the repetitious patterns of the wall. The spaces between each ridge in the wall eventually blended together in the horizon. As I walked, I felt the wall flow up and down and pause at each watchtower.
Disappearing Horizon, The Great Wall
Meditation on drums, Drum Tower
Summer Palace, Bejing
A Summer resort
A place to vacation, rest, stroll and paddle
A large Imperial Garden in the middle of Beijing
Harmonica on water, Timon at Summer Palace
Huashan Mountain, Sunrise
Huashan Mountain came with a lot of baggage. We were constantly warned before hand of the perilous cliffs, the number of people who have died, the treacherous climb, the lack of showers and toilets, the expensive water…etc.etc. Even though Huashan is a sacred mountain where countless people pilgrimage and visit each year, I was apprehensive. When we got there we were immediately herded into an hour long line to begin our ascent. When we got to the top we waited in line again to climb the mountain. Eventually the crowds began to thin out and we were alone on the top. We watched the sunset at the highest peak and screamed and yelled only to hear our friends at the west peak yell back. We huddled and gathered underneath millions of stars and pretended like we could recite all the constellations. We awoke at sunrise to watch the sun peak over the mountain tops. When we began to climb down the mountain, we were all in better moods than when we started.
Crowds of people
Hand carved steps
Ghosts in the attic
Echoing on top of the mountain
White gloves on the handrail
Jumping down the steps