According to my planning notes, there were several places in Hangzhou that I could have gone to see today.
When arranging this trip, I made a list of the places I was going to, including some ideas about local landmarks and museums – things that had interested me when I was reading about places.
It’s not extensive.
This was never intended to be checklist. The intention was, when I arrived anywhere and if I wasn’t sure what to do (or, more likely, had forgotten why I had chosen this destunation) I could read the list and get some ideas for options.
While having a coffee and a muffin by the West Lake I decided to have a look at the idea for Hangzhou.
There were more ideas than I remembered including.
By the time I leave tomorrow afternoon, I will have done precisely one of them.
In my humble opinion, it would be a shame to spend only one day around the Lake: there is so much to see.
I have also used yesterday and today as days for total relaxation. All I have done is walk around looking at the scenery, or “forest bathing” as I talked about in an earlier post, and sit watching the world go by.
I walked through the woods from my hostel to the Southwest shore of the Lake. The woodland covers the mountainsides for several miles to the South and the West of the water.
While the long-distance photographs I have taken of them paint a blueish tinge, walking through the ferns, the umbrella plants, they are most definitely green while the bark of the conifer trees gave me a strong craving for chocolate.
Huagang Guanyu was the first park I came to this morning.
It’s one of the oldest around the Lakes, dating back to the twelfth century, but it was neglected from the 1700s until 1949. Two major projects, from 1952 onwards, restored the park and it is now one of the biggest in Huangzhou and seemingly very popular.
One of the things that has struck me in China is the number of heritage or natural beauty sites that were apparently allowed to fall into ruin for hundreds of years until the People’s Republic of China was created.
As much of this restoration includes imperial monuments, I find that a surprising statement to see repeated, especially after hearing how the Walls of Xi’an were allowed to fall into disrepair and be actively used as building material until the 1970s.
However, I am not an expert on Chinese history.
Quyuanfenghe was the next park I came to or, to give it the full title as decreed by the emperor in the 17th century: Garden of the Breeze-Rustled Lotus. Apparently the scent was intoxicating and the gardent was considered to be one of the ten must-visit places around the Lake.
There used to be a brewery here in the twelfth century but, with the exception of one sign that stated this, I couldn’t find any traces of it.
I then walked along the Baidu Causeway, watching the boats on the water. The Causeways on the Lake are the results of dredging and clearing the silt from the water and using it to build walkways and bridges.
Time in green space, natural environments, in nature is so important – even when there are thousands of other people around.
That was the other nice aspect of a day by the Lake – opportunities for people watching and, close to the city side, each pavillion and clearing was filled with groups of people either dancing, or apparently in karaoke competitions with each other, at the same time.
This was the first time I’ve seen the public singing and dancing taking place on a weekday. However, Hangzhou is a very popular holiday destination for Chinese people, so perhaps this place is the exception – weekends never end when you’re on holiday.
The advice may have been from the 13th Century but I think Marco Polo was right about Hangzhou.
Oh, and the cake is ok too. I told you the trees had made me crave chocolate.
- Featured Photo: Messing about in boats on the Lake.