Asia | China | Yunnan Province | jianshui – A tour of Jianshui
our visit in the town of jian shui started at the Confucius Shrine. nested between 2 parts of the jian shui high school campus, the shrine itself used to be occupied by the high school from the 30s to the 80s. i was surpised by how few visitors there were given the impressive layout and architecture on the grounds. for the locals, the shrine grounds was a park as students with jian shui high traversed in front of the confucius’ statue to and from classes. a few older people were having a blast bowling in a corner of the grounds, now turned into the senior citizens’ corner by the city government.
our driver insisted that we couldn’t say that we’d been to jian shui without visiting Zhu’s Garden. i was reluctant at first, thinking that it was some sort of cheesy tourist attration, but entering the garden was like stepping into a different world from the dusty town outside. built in the late ching dynasty, the garden belonged to the zhu family, who flourished from the gejiu tin mines and opium trade, and eventually gained a position in the provincial government. the family lost its power and wealth during world war II, and the garden was taken by the communist government and turned into an agriculture museum before its restoration.
the garden consists of a series of courtyards, making the place almost a maze. each courtyard is elaborately adorend with ink painting and poems on the walls and orignial antique furniture in the rooms. the taste of those who built the place rivaled, if not surpassed those who built the famous gardens in suzhou. i was so surprised that such literary and artistic talent existed in yunnan, long regarded by most chinese as a culturally backward place.
once the state capital, jian shui is loaded with culture. the street right outside zhu’s garden is lined with beaitiful old buildings that used to belong to scholars and state officials, but are now in the process of being torn down. highrise apartment complexes will soon replace them. looking down from the city wall, i saw the gray tiled roofs of the older homes disappearing, and the wholesome jian shui people walking around with their heads held high because they are now one step closer to modernization.