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Published: November 3rd 2017
Abandoning Shanghai for Hangzhou. This was my thought, soon after being arrived in the giant metropolis. I came to China to visit ancient sites and when I got to Shanghai I was just, this is not my place, and I left the day after.
Hangzhou is a little Shanghai but the eye-catching sight of the West Lake made me to change my mind and to sojourn for a few days.
The only inconvenience, though, was the rainy weather all my stay long. Even the accommodation in the city was humid, wet and uncomfortable but I did not mind that after all. Before leaving to China, I was given by a friend of mine a book about China's history and it was the first time I withdrew that from my backpack. It became my silent travel companion that talked to me, only, when I needed it and remained silent when I wanted a bit of tranquillity.
It was very exciting to be told a history of a place when you are phisically there and you do not have to look for some tourist guides and mingling with other people. In a way, it
was my personal and silent cicerone guiding me through the history of that marvellous lake.
The West Lake has always been a beautiful and romantic spot since ancient times. I found a beautiful poem by a great Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo in the 10th century.
"Sunny water waves its glow,
Misty rain tricks the hill.
Plainly or gaily decked out like Xi Zi,
West Lake is always alluring."
In that poetic sentiment Su Dongpo depicts the charm of the west Lake and its beauty named Xi Zi.
On those days I was there, the West Lake was surrounded by clouds and water. Although the inconvenience of the weather, that mist erased the horrendous skyline that otherwise would spoil the sides of this tremendous and beautiful place.
The absence of people around the lake made me appreciate more the beauty of this spot and, in a way, it was like to going back in time when, during the Tang Dynasty "AD 618-907", many artists and poets remained enchanted by the peacefulness and wonderful nature of the XiHu. In that moment, only the
sound of the rain disturbed the quietness of that place and I found shelter under a beautiful pavillon while admiring the beautiful paintings of the artists of the past dynasties on my book.
What an exciting sensation to be under a pavillion like many famous and great artist did in the past when they were allured by the charm of the West Lake.
I was becoming absorbed by the hystory unfolded by my travel companion and I craved to delve deeply into the attractive history of China. Thousands of years of history, I knew it would take many years before understanding the whole society and their past but travelling in China was a great experience and the so many different ethnic groups, cultures, traditions and characteristic places made me fall in love with it.
It was the same, here, surrounded by beautiful temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees which blended with landscape.
The mist did not give the idea of the size of the lake but it was enormous: measuring 2 miles "3.2 kilometers" in length, 1.7 miles "2.8 kilometers" in width, and 7.5 feet "2.3 meters"
in depth, the lake area is about 2.5 square miles "6.5 square kilometers". The poor weather took away all its grandness and made it resembled a little pond but the west Lake is embraced by mountains on three sides, the West Lake intermingles itself into the North Inner Lake, the "Yuehu Lake", the West Inner Lake, the South Lake and the West Outer Lake, the Su Causeway and the Yang Causeway. Between the North Inner Lake and the West Outer Lake lies the largest natural island called the "Solitary Hill". There are also two famous pagodas by the lake, but I saw only the Leifeng Pagoda to the south and the other one Baochu Pagoda was situated in the north which I did not visit.
It was also interesting to come to know that the West Lake became a place for dating due to a famous legend. The love story between Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian. Bai Suzhen was a white snake spirit and Xu Xian was a mortal man. They fell in love with each other at first sight, and got married very soon. But the evil monk Fa Hai attempted to separate the couple by
imprisoning Xu Xian. Bai Suzhen fought against Fa Hai and tried her best to rescue his husband. But she failed and was imprisoned under the Leifeng Pagoda by the lake. Years later the couple was rescued by Xiao Qing, the sister of Baisuzhen. From then on, Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian lived together happily. Because of the moving story, the lake became an ideal place for dating.
The West Lake is truly a pearl in the magical orient, those days of rain made me appreciate more the beauty of that place, giving me that as it was in the long past without the crowds of tourists that roll in from all sides and that alter the ambiance of a magical place like XiHu.
The best time to appreciate and enjoy the lake is on a november rainy day when you can have it all for yourfself.
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