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Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Trip to China: Huntington Library and Gardens, Part I

The Huntington Library and Gardens in a privately owned 120 acre botanical garden and art museum located in San Marino, 12 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. 

This time last year, we were back in the Los Angeles area. My wife, teenage kids, and I took time to enjoy The Huntington along with my extended family. Above, obligatory group photos just inside the entrance. 

First stop: the 12 acre Chinese Garden. 

The Chinese Garden opened in 2008. It's been at least twenty years since I'd been to The Huntington, so this was the first time I had seen it. 

The garden's Chinese name is Liu Fang Yuan, which translates "The Garden of Flowing Fragrance." 

Artisans and architects from the Chinese city of Suzhou spend six months working along the Southern California team in the creation of the of the garden. 

Apparently, Liu Fang Yuan is the world's largest Chinese garden outside of China. Even if you're not "into" Chinese culture, it's very impressive. 

Here's a view from behind one of the garden's waterfalls. There are some beautiful water features, including the "Lake of Reflected Fragrance" and "Pond of Reflected Greenery." 

My kids, in between their two cousins (center). 

My niece and nephew, plus their older sister and parents, lived in Shanghai, China for five years. In that sense, it was especially fun to visit. 

San Marino is located in the San Gabriel Valley, which has a huge and vibrant Chinese-American community. Here's a link to a previous post on a visit to nearby Monterey Park, highlighting the extensive Chinese-American influence in the area. 

The political changes in China over the past 2-3 years are another issue, and should be of concern to those of us in the West.

The Chinese government has built massive detention facilities in the western province of Xinjiang, and are currently detaining one million ethnic Uighur Muslims under the guise of "re-education." Elsewhere in China, churches have been closed and bulldozed, Christian leaders have been imprisoned.

While the current administration's "trade war" might be making the news, of greater concern should be the increasing repression occurring in China. 

The relative freedoms that the Chinese have enjoyed over the past couple of decades are quickly disappearing, with a new and aggressive reassertion of the Chinese Communist Party. China's new "social credit" system sounds like something out an episode of TV show Black Mirror. 

Many of these changes, or at least awareness of them, have occurred in the past twelve months since our visit to The Huntington. While this blog generally keeps a light and optimistic tone, the current direction of the Chinese government is taking is sobering. Friends living long-term in China have described it as a return to the culture revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. Here's a link with more info. 

Obligatory family photo. Since we took this photo last year, my son has since started as a Freshman at San Diego State University, my daughter is a High School Junior. 

A few photos on our way to the next stop, the ajacent Japanese Garden. 

Here's a link to The Huntington website.

More next time. 

© 2018


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