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A place to leave behind worldly turmoil, and linger in serenity

By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)

13:29, March 28, 2013

(China Daily)

To say the Lingering Garden is a typical Suzhou garden is like saying Coca-Cola is a typical soft drink. All classical gardens in Suzhou share the same style.

A first-time tourist need visit only one, but a discerning traveler may be able to detect the nuances that differentiate each one.

Now I'm no connoisseur in garden landscaping, so I'll offer my personal opinion, which is totally subjective.

The best spot in this 400-year-old garden is the hexagonal-roofed pavilion on top of the very small hill. From here, you can take in the view of the pond, with the houses in the background. The angle is roughly that from a treetop, but it puts the water in proper perspective, right in the middle of your mental frame, neither too big nor too small.

Perspective is not used in traditional Chinese painting, which rarely separates foreground and background. But a Suzhou garden resembles a Chinese scroll only when examined from a bird's-eye view. At ground level, it is more like a Western landscape, but with ever-shifting foregrounds and backgrounds.

The slightly elevated viewpoint from the mound provides a kind of in-between state. If you brush away plants and twigs, it's more Chinese; if you gaze behind the pillars of the pavilion, you gain a foreground.

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