Yesterday I had the privilege of going on a Chinese class trip to the Huntington Gardens. I don’t know exactly how this happened, but Nick and I were basically the two L170A (Intro to Chinese) people in a trip that was completely otherwise filled with L174 (Chinese for Native Speakers). So, completely ill-equipped to read characters and ready for a good time, we set off into the gardens. Our class had a guided tour of the Chinese gardens (pictured below) as well as the Japanese gardens.
The gardens took my breath away; I was in China over spring break, and the way in which they were able to completely replicate the architectural style and horticulture was honestly amazing. I walked through the gateway and literally I could’ve been convinced that I was in an auxiliary of the summer palace in Beijing (although apparently the gardens are Shanghai styled). It was also a very enlightening experience in that I realized that my Chinese was not truly abhorrent. Nick and I bravely foraged through the mess of calligraphy and obscure words to recognize a few commonly used introductory Chinese words like 天 and 水. That was actually pretty cool, to realize that we had both gone from a level of completely nonexistent Chinese to a (very) basic understanding. Which makes sense if you consider that we’ve been studying it for almost a year. But still pretty cool.
The Japanese gardens were very different. Apparently, there were 300 different species of bonsai that have their own curator. Also present were a tea house that was formerly attached to a monastery and a former Asian curiosities shop. Apparently they use thyme as a proxy for moss that traditionally surrounds stepping stones in Japanese gardens as the moss doesn’t grow in California. Also, fun fact, they didn’t have to earthquake retrofit the tea house because the roof is light enough that it was not considered to cause a danger. They had to earthquake fit all of the structures in the Chinese gardens as the clay tiles used on the roofs are much heavier.
After, three of us went to the desert gardens which were REALLY cool. It honestly felt like being in the lorax, only every truffula tree or fluffy looking bush would actually hurt you and your family if you decided to go near it.
We saw a rabbit!
Oh. Also, the noodle shop in the Chinese gardens smelled wonderful. I definitely would’ve stopped if I had time.
They serve lychee lemonade too. Just saying.