Monday 2 January 2012

China: Hang Zhou

Reached 杭州 (Hangzhou) at about 5/6am and ate 馄饨 (dumplings) and 小笼包 (xiao long bao) for breakfast. The dumplings are worth a try but the xiao long bao were not that great, they were rather dry... Perhaps it's a different type? I'm used to (and I prefer) the type with alot of oil and soup inside the XLB.

Headed off to the place we were staying after breakfast to dump our luggage.

Started the day at 西溪 (Xi Hu). We toured the place on a row boat (摇橹船), it was SO scenic and the air was so fresh!! According to the tour guide, there are 三西 in Hangzhou: 西湖 (xi hu),西溪 (xi xi),西泠 (xi ling). Okay, four actually but the last one which is 西山 (xi shan) is under renovation. According to the flyer.. *clears throat* 西湖养眼。西湖风景如诗如画,是视觉盛宴。西溪养肾。湿地涵养水源、调节气候等生态功能,堪称“城市之肾”。西泠养心。西泠印社环境幽美、淡雅高洁,是陶冶情操、修身养性的理想场所。西山养肺。西部群山(简称西山)是登山、健身、吸氧的“天然氧吧”。The first is good for the eyes because it's picturesque. The second is good for the kidneys because the waters there can adjust the weather which is supposedly good for the kidney. The third is good for the heart because it is tranquil and is good for those seeking inner peace. The last is a mountain so the air surrounding it is fresh and climbing mountain is good for the lungs. Interesting stuff!

I had a really good time touring the lake, it was really cold though! My hands were absolutely frozen, had to wear gloves. We sipped tea and ate pumpkin seeds on the boat while cruising around the lake. I even had a go at rowing the boat! The oar was really heavy, and it kept floating upwards, much harder than it looks... And I ended up rowing us into a bunch of floating aquatic plants haha oops!

灵隐寺 (Ling Ying Temple) - 飞来峰,大雄宝殿. Lots of temples inside and it was bigger than I thought! I didn't take many photos here because it's not encouraged to take photos of Buddha. Oh, I almost made friends with two Koreans dudes haha. My aunt overheard them talking in Korean, so she turned to me and said "hey, they said 'gwaen chan ah', Koreans..!" Which was overheard by one of them and he said to his friend "hey, they understood 'gwaen chan ah'!" Which was overheard by me. So we kind of starred at each other for a while, amused till I said "annyeonghaseyo". Too bad I didn't know what else to say or else maybe free tour guides to Korea eh? Hehe.

雷峰塔 (Lei Fen tower). This pagoda was built by a king (吴越国王钱俶) because his concubine (黄妃) gave birth to a son. After that, many folks believed that this pagoda had magical powers and could bless them with a son so they dug out bricks, brought them home and prayed to the rock. As this continued, the center of the pagoda became hollow and thus it collapsed. Efforts were made to reconstruct this pagoda and works finished in 2002. So it's very new, taller than the old one and it even has a lift right in the middle of it! Haha. Oh, there is also "The tale of the white serpent" (白蛇传) in which the white snake was supposedly trapped under this pagoda. And I found it hilarious that they've even built an escalator in front of the tower.

白堤/断桥 (Bai Ti/broken bridge).
Walked across Bai Ti which is lined with beautiful willow trees. What I love about Hangzhou is that there are SOOOO many trees lining the roads, in the parks, everywhere! 岳飞庙 /岳飞墓 (Tomb of Yue Fei). Yue fei who was a general of Song dynasty and was sentenced to death due to false charges. The mastermind behind Yue Fei's death was Qin Hui and his wife. After some time, it was discovered that Yue Fei was framed so bronze statues of Qin Hui and his wife were made to kneel in front of Yue Fei's tomb. People used to spit on them but it's no longer encouraged cos it's now regarded as a historic symbol. But I still saw fresh spit on them haha!

龙井村 (十八棵,狮峰龙井) Long Jing Tea village. Good Long Jing Cha apparently fetches a very high price so the tea farmers earn LOADS... They all have landed properties and drive huge cars.

After touring west lake, we had dinner at this place called 'Blue Lotus' where they served South East cuisine. The decorations of the place was pretty unique and had an Indian touch. The dishes were good, very satisfying meal!! But crazy amount for four people, we always over ordered during our trip in China as you'll see in later posts..

宋城 (Song City). After dinner, we went to Song City and caught a performance there. The performances made use of dances and songs to tell the history of Hangzhou and some folk tales surrounding the place. And it was spectacular!!! It really took my breath away, the costumes, the stage, the dancers, everything was so amazing! I hardly blinked, didn't want to miss anything. There were even horses on stage! And cannons! A definite MUST watch if you're going Hangzhou. :)

I shall update about the rest of my trip another day!

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