is pretty much the entirety of my tea consumption today (guesses anybody?), it won’t make for a very interesting blog entry. Where I visited, however, might be of interest to some of you. It’s slightly off topic, I know, but indulge me.
After going to the library and reading a whole bunch of family genealogies (that’s my research here) I decided to take another stroll. I was told that there was a… house? mansion? I don’t know what the right word here is … that was owned by one of my ancestors about a few blocks away, so I decided to look for it among the narrow alleys of Changshu.
The place I was looking for was found after a little search. It’s called the Swallow Garden (Swallow as in the bird). It was, for a few decades at least, a property of my great-great-granduncle. If that’s confusing… he’s my grandfather’s granduncle, or my great-grandfather’s uncle. In late age he styled himself the “Old man from the Swallow Valley”, a reference to his residence (ah, this is the right word).
This is the gate to it:
It’s firmly shut.
The place was apparently under renovation, but after looking around, I saw that it was accessible by a side door, and after asking the workers there if I could go look… they let me in.
This is what you see after taking a few steps inside
It’s really quite a nice place. I never knew that a relative of mine owned this place. I do know that it was owned by another prominent local family, but whose fortunes waned. It was apparently a classic case of son gambling away the house, like in the movie To Live. My ancestor eventually bought it after it changed hands a few times.
Much of the house was relatively inaccessible, but it was rather large with a few different gardens. The most distinctive thing is that you can never see too far once you’re in it… you have to walk around and gradually discover the place, piece by piece. Something looks like it’s really close, but you can’t get there easily. It’s a maze.
So I turned right and walked through this corridor
Which eventually got me to the other side
I then walked into the back garden
There were more buildings further back, but the way was pretty much blocked by construction materials and that sort of thing. Oh well. But you can see, for example, a little gazebo overlooking another pond with some rocks. I would kill to drink tea there.
Apparently quite a few structures in this complex was destroyed after 1949, and so the current size is already reduced. It’s a pity, really, but at least they’re restoring it as much as they can.
The same thing cannot be said of our other family residence, this one being where my grandfather spent his first 20 years or so. The battery on my camera was running low so I was only able to grab a few pictures. If people are interested, I’ll post some tomorrow as I’m going back there, along with seeing other residences, pay my respects at some family tombs, and look at some more local sources. This is all work! 🙂