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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hangzhou and the West Lake


Hangzhou was for us merely a step on the way south through inland China rather than the elite resort city it is for Chinese. The hotel was quite expensive (270 Yuan) and the main thing that attracted us was the West Lake, so we spent a day there taking a trip out and around the lake and visiting some of the islands.

The park at the lake's edge.

Flagstone motifs of bird life

A panorama of West Lake

West Lake is famed throughout the world to the extent that any reference to west lake alone leads to Hangzhou. It is very shallow having an average depth of only 0.8 m and is partially split by causeways running to island masses.

Chinese and some Tibetan Buddhist monks at the lake's edge

The lake is surrounded by mountains to the west and forms a counterpoint the the high rise development of the city, which imposes on the eastern shoreline.

We took a boat trip out to one of the islands, the Lesser Yingzhou Island, where there is a little temple and a series of lilly ponds conneced by bridges to the center.

Images of the Lesser Yingzhou Island gardens and temple

An old sedan chair for the wealthy and aristocratic or party leaders

The lake also has three famous stone lantern towers, each with five holes called "three pools mirroring the moon" which are lit for the Autumn festival in the full moon of September, and which featured on the 1 Yuan bank note. Hangzhou also holds a prominent lantern festival which marks the end of the Chines new year.

Festival boats

High rise apartment housing Hangzhou

From Hangzhou, we took the bus to Huangshan, the mountain said to be the definitive icon of classical Chinese landscape painting. The government had recently constructed a four lane motorway to Huangshan which despite the 2 billion price tag and multiple toll booths had almost no traffic but the bus we were traveling on.

Scenes on the motorway to Huangshan

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