I had long been wanting to visit this place. There were so many stories behind both the residence and the residents themselves, each and everyone of great significance during the past 200 years. Here, several Qing emperors and their immediate family members were born. It roofed the single most corrupt official in the history of Qing Dynasty. Its most recent resident, a great figure no less important than her formers, is none the other than the Mother of China Soong Ching Ling. She had spent her last almost 20 years here.
The house exhibited every aspect of a traditional Chinese mansion, river, houses dotted along the way, gazebos. A natural blend of indoor and outdoor living.
Main building isn’t big, it’s a two-story traditionally structured house.
Behind the house reside 12 doves of rare-species. They were donated by a Chinese corporate on learning that Mrs. Soong loved doves.
River runs around the back of the house.
Upon entering the house, is the living room.
Following the upstairs, we were led into a grand hallway.
Her bedroom, where she passed away in 1981, is immediately to the right.
A back-then rare commodity, TV stood by the bed.
Pictures of her and her family members.
The residence is also famed for the first real refrigerator in China.
She liked to play old-fashioned carom billiards with her staff.
The grandfather clock still worked after all these years. At 4 pm sharp, we heard its reminder, “another hour passed.”
We met someone explaining the exhibition next room. At first we thought she was an on-site staff, but it turned out that she was a close family friend of Soong, Deanna Gao, hosting her Chinese art exhibition and her collection of Soong’s letters and gifts, commemorating the anniversary of her passing.
Little box of candy, imported from USA, from Soong as a gift.
Born in 1947 in a Chinese-French family, she grown up to be a great Chinese painting artist. If you know French, you can check out her intro here: http://www.deanna-gao.com/
The cat series is especially lively, it captures just the cats themselves, minus everything else.
Cat watching the fish.
Catching a mouse at the foot of the tree trunk.
Though Gao had moved to Paris later, Soong maintained a habit of sending her China Reconstruct, an English-magazine informing the development of New China under Communists.
Closed back house.
Red-pillared halls enclosing a pleasant courtyard.
The South Hall is right across the river.
A fan-shaped gazebo greeted us from the top of a hill at the entrance.
Following a little winding path to the gazebo, we found this rather interesting rock.
You can sit down and play chess on a pleasant day.
You may also take a peek of Houhai itself standing on the edge.
Next to the hill is the South Hall.
Stones were layered without much cement, they were carved in step-like grooves and layered on top of each other.
More letters between Gao and Soong displayed. Here, Soong sent Gao a check knowing her in financial trouble.
Awards by Gao.
Yuxiang bought a book about Soong written by Gao, getting her autograph.