The Orchid Pavilion in Shaoxing

A Tourist in China

I made a quick decision in January 2008 to go to China, to teach English.  I recall it all now and shake my head at my sudden decision of the offer.  When I returned home after signing the documents I went online to research. I wanted to find out more about the place I was to live for the next year.

It was a bit overwhelming.  As I had not been planning a trip to China it was all new to me. I was very surprised to see that there was so much to see.  I was very impressed!

Depressing First Impressions

I arrived after a long cold winter and was most shocked to feel very sad and depressed by what we saw.  Trees had no leaves; Everyone was rugged up in dark clothes to keep warm, and there was little colour about.  I was rather shocked actually, especially as when we entered the airport looking for the folk that should have been waiting for us, it looked like a destruction site.  It was.  The new Pudong airport was about to open, and the old one was a mess – as we walked through it, we wondered what was going on!

Playing Tourist

It wasn’t long before we were exploring Shaoxing, and in the early days I went to a place called The Orchid Pavilion or Lan-Ting.  (I grew orchids at home, so was keen to see what orchid flowers were there!)

Lanting will forever hold great memories for me. There are two parts to the famous Lanting – the area where hundreds of students and families meet each weekend for barbeques, and the famous place that has a very long history, although I understand it has been recreated here, and may not be the original site of the story.  

Further Information

According to Planetware

“The Orchid Pavilion, set in impressive natural scenery with bamboo woods and winding streams, is situated 14km/9mi to the southwest of the city. A stele with an inscription by the Emperor Kangxi (reigned: 1662-1723) is housed in the pavilion. Outside the pavilion a picturesque little lake extends for some 30m/32yd. In the center of this lake is a stone tablet with two ideograms which, roughly translated, mean ”goose pond”. They are attributed to Wang Zizhi, who in the year 335 wrote the famous ”Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Poetry Collection”. The pavilion was therefore already in existence in the 4th C.”

I understand that in woods near a stream a number of poets gathered. They were sitting beside a stream and drinking wine.  The bowls of wine were floated in the little stream. When the bowl reached one of the poets or writers he was obliged to write something. This was all done writing Chinese characters or calligraphy, and is believed to be one of the oldest pieces of calligraphy in existence.

Another website Yoyo says:

“The garden nestles against green hills covered with luxuriant trees and dense bamboo groves. Around Lanting are murmuring crystal-clear streams . In the garden the five architectures-the Geese Pond Pavilion, the Wine -cup Floating Pavilion, the Lanting Tablet, the Imperial Stone Tablet Pavilion and the Right Wine-cup Floating Pavilion, the Lanting Tablet, the Imperial Stone Tablet Pavilion and the Right Wing Army General Temple are fine works of art

My Thoughts

As you can guess it is a very famous place. I did enjoy seeing the place where the poetry was written, with little cane seats around the meandering stream, and it is a wonderful experience to sit and imagine what it was like all those hundreds of years ago when the poetry was written.

Lanting - the Goose Pond

At Lanting – The Orchid Pavilion – The Goose Pond

I don’t recall seeing any orchids here.  Maybe, I will get to visit it one more time.

Have any readers visited Shaoxing or Lanting?

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About Di Hill

My business card says "Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan, Workshop Presenter." This website will focus on my writing - and the workshops I present. Workshops on Blogging, Marketing for Writers, and Life Story Writing.
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