Where the fairs and old markets used to gather around Chongan Temple, pop music now bellows across the square as the trendsetters of the new Wuxi stride briskly about the grand shopping malls. This is Wuxi’s face---Western restaurants, fashion stores, glass escalators and neon lights, all the luxuries of the modern would now on sale for the nouveau riche of the reborn city.
Yet beneath all the modern facades, the presence of Wuxi’s history can still be felt. Within the mall, statues and displays placed in inconspicuous corners grace the shopping precinct with memories of earlier days---here is RongDesheng parading about in his rickshaw, here is Lu Yu, China’s foremost tea connoisseur, proclaiming the spring waters of Xihui Park to be the “second best suited for distilling tea”.
The largest display is reserved for Wang Xizhi, a famous calligrapher who once stayed at the temple---the pond he dug out is still there and has been diverted into a waterfall that cascades over stone impressions of his work. Behind it, a peaceful park gives the elderly of the city a place to stroll and even to dance in the square.