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"Jiangnan" -- South of Yangtze

The Yangtze River since early an cient times has been winded its way on this piece of land, moist ening crops and making people intelli gent on both sides of the river.

Later, Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty built the Grand Canal connected Beijing and Hangzhou.
Now it is hard to know the causal relation between the opening of the ca nal and the prosperity of 'Jiangnan", the region on the south of the Yangtze River, but the region has been well-known in Chinese history for its richness, beauti ful mountains and waters, for its gifted men and pretty women.

'Jiangnan" is the hometown of silk, a place abound in fish and rice, adapt ability and mild as water. So, years by years, the region has become a paradise in the Chinese people's hearts. Both Em petor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty visited the region for six times during their ruling time. Not only the rulers, ordinary people in the vast land have all been attached to the region.

I began my travel to Jiangnan, with a long time yearning and a lot of legends about the region that I heard in my child hood.

Later, I have found that the region is a pearl tray. The beauty as charming as pearls can be seen everywhere here.

Nanjing, called Jinling in ancient times, had been the capital for ten dy nasties. At the Qinhuai River, you can see gaily-painted pleasure boats, or "huafang". In ancient times, the nobles, who had lived in Central Plains for gen erations and then moved to Jinling, com bined the boat in the south with the cart in the north. That was how the huafang was made. At that time, music played by traditional stringed and woodwind instruments, and people's laughters past the Qinhuai River, while the lantern lights and the colour of water contrasted finely with each other. Many literati liked to drink here until they were drunk. Fa- mous actresses such as Li Xiangjun and Dong Xiaowan had performed many touching plays on the Qinhuai River.

You can go to the Fuzi Temple to take part in a simulated imperial exami nation, to markets to buy several pieces of wonderful "Yuhua" stone, a sotr of stone existing exclusively in Nanjing, and then go to the Qinhuai Rivet to see the houses and their residents on the river.

There in the Zijinshan Scenic Zone are Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum and the remains of the city wall built in the Ming Dynasty. The ancient wall could not keep against the soldiers from the Taiping Heaven Kingdom or the Japanese invad ers. However, the existence of the mau soleum and the wall itself is a demon stration.

I went to Suzhou and was unwill ing to leave. The gardens in Suzhou were built by officials in ancient times for their private uses. They are small and pretty.

Green bamboo, banana trees, wintetsweet and sweet-scented osmanthus were painted on the gardens' white walls. The building material and the colours of the gatdens are simple but elegant, less re splendent than the bright red and golden yellow in Beijing's royal gardens, and people can and the scenery pleasing to both the eye and the mind. However, there are something more luxutious in Suzhou's gardens. The Tingyu Pavilion was built just for the owner to listen to the sounds of rains in summer dropping on the leaves of banana trees, and the Liuting Pavilion was for listening the sounds of rains in autumn and winter dropping on withered lotus leaves.

Zhouzhuang is the best preserved village of rivers and lakes built in the Ming Dynasty. The bridges in the vil- lage are different from each other. Among the numerous small bridges on the river, each one has been portrayed by artists or shot by photographers. The river flows by the windows of villagers' houses, while the villagers, as always, go out by row- ing boats. They have lived here for many generations. They are kind, and living in harmony. Nowadays, I still carry with me a small bag of freshwater pearls. They were come from what I selected a pearl shell, for 15 RMB when visiting Jinji Lake in Suzhou and asked someone to open it. The pearls were collected by myself. Too many things are unforgettable there. One of the most unforgettable pictures is that Suzhou's village women are working hard at embroidering for overseas clients in their spacious houses.

The Grand Canal passes the city of Wuxi. In the ancient residential quarters along the both sides of the canal, people are still use the antiquated Laohuzao, or Tiger Oven, to boil water for selling. However, in Yuantouzhu, the most beau tiful part of the Tai Lake, the busyness of the daily life in the secular world is to tally washed away by the beauty of hills and the expanse of water.

Yangzhou is the moon city of China. In the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Slen der West Lake is full of songs. People sit on the Twenty-four Bridge and the Five Pavilion Bridge, waiting for the full and bright moon. Numerous inscribed boards, couplets, engraved bricks and ancient paintings can be found in Yangzhou. The calligraphic works and paintings of the "Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou", the tombs of Han Dynasty, the Daming Temple where Master Jianzhefl practising Buddhism, as well as numerous relics and historic sites, are not unusual in this famous historic cultural city.

In Shanghai the Yangtze River is reluctant to part from the conrinent and join in the sea. Shanghai, at the converg ing point of the river and the sea, is head ing to become a modern international metropolis. The old face of "the Oriental Paris" has been replaced by the new out look of a future international financial center.

Looking back to the south end of the Grand Canal, we see the West Lake, which has given birth to various fairy tales and legends. Tasting a cup of Longjing tea, walking on the Broken Bridge, you will have different feelings about life. The West Lake, with its beau tiful hills and waters, is a demonstration of the charm of Hangzhou and miniature of the wonderful landscape in Jiangnan, a "paradise in the earth".

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