Sunday, 1 February 2009
The city of Shaoxing celebrates many famous people, and one is the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, Zhou Enlai. He was born in Zhejiang province in 1898, and his ancestral home is in Shaoxing, although I don't think from what I have read that he ever lived there.
I had walked through the street in which the museum and other buildings celebrating his life were, but I had not been in, until the last few weeks of my stay in Shaoxing. One reason was that there was little English to be seen and I had hoped to get a student to go with me, but it was not to be.
In my effort to see all the places on my "to see list", I made a point of going one afternoon all on my own. It certainly was a fascinating place but as usual I was frustrated by the lack of English.
My Tourist card worked again, so it was FREE for me to visit. There are buildings on both sides of the road, and there were few people there. I wandered - reading as much as I could as there was some English, but great things to see.
I never cease to be amazed at the way the buildings fit into one another with beautiful gardens between them. I can't tell much about the photos - but certainly fascinating. Several halls had many photos of Zhou Enlai's family, and others contained photos of him during his political career. One room was like a mausaleum complete with moving music but the reality is there is no body here. He was buried elsewhere.
As usual there were little stalls throughout the buildings and at one I found a lovely book with amazing photos of Shaoxing. It was called "Ancient Bridges and Houses in Waterside Shaoxing" and I was impressed that the photos had English captions, and there was one chapter all in English. It was for sale for 35 RMB. The book that was on display was slightly damaged - it was the copy that obviously many people had already leafed through and there were dirty marks and fingerprints on it. I wanted a new copy. Unblemished.
My Chinese language skills did nothing to convince the two people on the stall that I was happy to purchase - a CLEAN COPY! In the end I left empty handed, and a little annoyed. I looked for the book in other places but it was not until I was inside Lu Xun's Native place some days later that I saw the book again and was able to get my very own clean copy.
Again I enjoyed looking at the wonderful buildings, rooms, furniture, and gardens of the tourist spot. Amazing things.
Zhou Enlai was Premier from 1st October 1949 until his death in 1976, and is hailed as one of the key people in the success of the Communist Party during this time.