The very first day that the whole group was together, we spent a disgustingly humid day at Shouxi Lake that almost made us forget the sticky heat. Little enclaves were built in random spots, with wide-open window frames and benches and tables; old Chinese men were playing checkers and women could be spotted chatting in a shady corner. Bamboo grew alongside the water and the paths wound unendingly around the lake and its greenery and gardens. Right up there with temples, gardens were a common destination for us visitors, and if I ever mentioned visiting any of them to a Chinese friend, they would beam with pride at their nation's beautiful entities and the care the collective people took to preserve them.
Suzhou, a city we spent several days in near the end of our trip (after leaving Yangzhou), is famous for its gardens. Chinese tourists come from all over in trains, planes, and even cars to revel in their world-renowned beauty. This was something I never knew until I went, but every Chinese person I heard speak of gardens had either seen or desired to visit Suzhou's. Having seen several of those as well, I think this one in Yangzhou rivals them; and it has a personality all its own.