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Saturday, 01 May 2021

Hangzhou & Shanghai, China

Written by Eric D. Goodman
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Part 3 of Fortunate Cookies: A Father-Daughter Adventure in China


Hanging Out in Hangzhou


When Marco Polo wrote about his visit to Hangzhou in the 1400’s, he described it as “the city of heaven” and “beyond dispute the finest and noblest in the world.” With its lush gardens, peaceful West Lake, and arguably the best tea in the world, it’s easy to understand why. About seven million residents call Hangzhou home today, and it remains a serene heaven on earth.


After a filling dinner in the private room of a local restaurant, we went to our hotel and saw a beautiful lake and garden from our hotel’s room. The Crown Plaza Hangzhou Xanadu Resort is a destination in itself. In the lobby, a magnificent stone (with a multitude of landscape and seascape scenes carved into it) centered the room and drew our attention. It must have been nine feet tall, and every inch of it depicted an intricate scene, the images winding back and forth from top to bottom.


We went outside for an evening stroll and saw the garden lit up at night. After a short walk, taking in the fresh, cool lakeside air, we returned to our rooms for some sleep. The peaceful sounds of nature drifted in from our open window and put us into serene slumber.



All lakes, big and small

After breakfast, we took in the beautiful lake and garden by the light of the sunrise through morning mist. Locals come to this lakeside resort for vacation the way westerners might go to a beach resort. We could see mansions on the other side of the lake, beyond an ornate bridge. A pagoda hovered in the background. The landscape—with misty mountains, the lake, willow trees, boulders, streams and waterfalls—was beautiful. As it turns out, this, the West Lake area, is the second most popular tourist destination for the Chinese people, Beijing being number one.


We met up with our guide and went toward the old city center for a tour of Hangzhou’s most famous attraction: West Lake. The man-made lake is about nine miles in circumference and features three bridges across the lake and islands. The most visited of these is the Su Causeway, built by the poet Su Dongpo in the late 1000’s. The lake itself has been the inspiration for art and literature going back more than 2,000 years.


During our own stroll around parts of West Lake, through the gardens, and across the lake by boat, we took in the breeze and tranquility and sights. We spotted the City God Temple, the Six Harmonies Pagoda, and a home located on an island that is privately owned.


It was easy to see why this place has been so inspiring to poets and artists. Like these words by the poet Ouyang Xiu (1007 to 1072):


The lovely Spring breeze has come

Back to the Lake of the West

The Spring waters are so clear and

Green they might be freshly painted.

The clouds of perfume are sweeter

Than can be imagined. In the

Gentle East wind the petals

Fall like grains of rice.


We recognized the three little pagodas in the water, as depicted on the One Yuan banknotes in our pockets. Right in the water of the lake, the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon is a scenic spot with three miniature stone pagodas, about 2 meters high, that are like beacons. The stone pillars in the water were built about 800 years ago. At the mid-autumn festival, candles are lit in these pagodas, casting reflections on the water as the moon shines down.


After enjoying the West Lake, we strolled through the surrounding area, taking in the refreshing gardens and accompanying statuary. Our next destination: another sort of refreshment.


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Last modified on Saturday, 01 May 2021
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