#53 Teaching at Taizhou Teachers College-Hangzhou Revisited- West Lake

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April 22nd 2007
Published: April 22nd 2007
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Among the BlossomsAmong the BlossomsAmong the Blossoms

Couldn't resist doing one cheesy photo like the locals!
To the Chinese people and foreign tourists alike, Hangzhou is one of the most important tourist destinations in the whole of China. A heaven on earth with its pervading greenery and parks and in it’s midst its star attraction- West Lake.

On my previous visit about the same time last year, I was on a guided tour that had been organized by my college. (see previous blog entry- # 8 May Madness) Needless to say we spent very little time at West Lake, so this trip I decided to make it the focus of the whole trip. In addition, I wanted to see the spring blossoms, so I decided to travel a few weeks earlier and away from the main holiday season! What a great decision that turned out to be!

Being a backpacker at heart I decided to stay lakeside at the Hangzhou International Youth Hostel located right on the lake off Nanshan Lu near the bar district. The place is always busy and a hive of activity, not only with the residents, but also with an increasing number of other foreign travellers who are seeking someone who speaks English to help them organize their onward travel.
Zhang ShunZhang ShunZhang Shun

Zhang Shun was one of the heros of a famous novel developed in the late Yuan & early Ming Dynasty period (14th C). The "novel" was called "Outlaws of the Marsh" and Zhang Shun was noted both for his strong swimming ability and his bravery in battle.
Surprisingly it seems that there are very few establishments in the budget to mid-range category who have staff who can assist. At least that’s what I was told. (apologies if this is not correct) This is not a little backwater somewhere just opening up to foreign travellers but a major tourist destination. Perhaps something for them to consider. There is also a charming courtyard restaurant/café that is also popular with locals working close by. It’s even sought out as a pretty backdrop for wedding photos, as I experienced one afternoon while relaxing over lunch.

The first thing I like to do on arrival at a new destination is to throw my bags on my bed and head off just exploring the surrounds by foot. As I arrived at night, this little “ritual” had to wait until the morning. I headed out relatively early, as despite it not being the main holidays, it was a weekend and spring is the peak season for West Lake. It turned out to be a wise decision, as I had a chance to almost completely circumnavigate the whole lake before the late morning tour groups arrived in their hordes. Now they’re a force to
Cherry Blossoms On West LakeCherry Blossoms On West LakeCherry Blossoms On West Lake

Despite the hazy conditions, these blossoms create a beautiful foreground to the lake.
be reckoned with!

The rest of the weekend was spent idling away time in particular areas of the lake, especially in the newer southern and quieter western areas. The weather was not really conducive to exploring the hills and villages extending beyond the southern reaches of the lake. I will leave that for another time.

West Lake has long been an inspiration to literati, artists and the like. The innumerable pieces of calligraphy, art and poetry that have been created over the centuries attest to this. There are also a number of famous legends based around or upon West Lake. In modern times West Lake may no longer be the peaceful place of solitude and contemplation that it may have been in the past, however it is still a charming place to just stroll, relax , enjoy the weeping willows, plum blossoms and ancient (albeit rebuilt) pagodas and best of all, people watch. One of the most striking aspects is that it is accessible to everyone, with only a handful of places requiring an entrance fee. Unfortunately in many places in China that I have travelled, this definitely is not the case. In some instances there seems to
Sword DancingSword DancingSword Dancing

One of the many traditional activities that are popular in parks and other public places is sword "dancing", as I call it. Although it is usual for the participants to be of a "mature" age, it is becoming more popular with young people. There are regular classes on our sports field and many of the trainees are young girls in their late teens and early twenties. It's a bit like doing a form of Tai Chi, very graceful and controlled.
be no public place, park or attraction that does not ask an increasingly exhorbitant entrance fee. This is especially so in the major tourist destinations and National Parks. Such a shame to keep these places out of reach for all but the affluent.

So share with me my spring experience at West Lake. I had a wonderful weekend and met a wide range of people. From out of town high school students here to sit a college/university entrance exam, university students taking a weekend out of study, local artists at an exhibition, local professionals, retired folk and a number of children. I am constantly reminded how blessed I am to experience this time in a land that is so different from my own.

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Additional photos below
Photos: 44, Displayed: 25


Good For The Health?Good For The Health?
Good For The Health?

A gentleman carries out his daily constitutional while his bored wife sits nearby, waiting patiently. I watched him for a good ten minutes and he did not move a fraction. Amazing control! Still a bit unsure of it's health benefits. Must ask my yoga friends!
Traditional Dance PracticeTraditional Dance Practice
Traditional Dance Practice

Many older women seem to do a variety of traditional dances in order to stay active and healthy. It is common to see organized groups performing these dances at special events as well. Again many of the body movements remind me of tai chi. One of the many times I wished my Chinese language skills were up to scratch so I could ask the ladies more about the origin and purpose of this type of exercise.
West Lake ModelWest Lake Model
West Lake Model

Close by to where I was staying is the West Lake Museum where you can find out anything you want about the natural and man-made history and development of Hangzhou's most prized "possession". This model illustrates perfectly the idyllic location that has attracted so many to its shores over the centuries.
Boating LessonsBoating Lessons
Boating Lessons

By the sounds of the shrieks and squeals, this was the first time many of these young people had ever been on water!
Leading to West LakeLeading to West Lake
Leading to West Lake

This path leading to the shores of West Lake passes by the King Qian Temple complex seen on the right.
Sue @ West LakeSue @ West Lake
Sue @ West Lake

A hot morning among the blossoms.
Tranquil ViewTranquil View
Tranquil View

Despite development along all of it's shores, West Lake can still give a feeling of tranquility and relaxation
Puss Along for the RidePuss Along for the Ride
Puss Along for the Ride

This young lady was ensuring her large ginger cat would not miss out on enjoying West Lake. He seemed to be having a lovely time!
Back Safe & SoundBack Safe & Sound
Back Safe & Sound

Time to head off in his own "safety seat".
No Photos Today, Please!No Photos Today, Please!
No Photos Today, Please!

"Not happy, Jan!"
Bai CausewayBai Causeway
Bai Causeway

Bai Causeway (Bai di) is a kilometre or so of roadway linking the largest island in the lake,Gu Hill, to the mainland. Gu Hill "houses" the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Zhongshan Park and the famous restaurant Louwailou Caiguan. The buildings and garden were once part of the holiday palace of Emperor Qianlong.
Local Children Try Their Hand at CartooningLocal Children Try Their Hand at Cartooning
Local Children Try Their Hand at Cartooning

Along the Bai causeway today is a promotion for the upcoming CICAF (China International Cartooning & Animation Festival"). Children have been given the opportunity to "have a try" using crayons and paints.
Budding AnimationistBudding Animationist
Budding Animationist

Among the childish and colourful efforts were some inspiring offerings from some highly talented youngsters. Japanese style anime seemed very popular.
Super Hero in the MakingSuper Hero in the Making
Super Hero in the Making

Super heroes were also very "big". It was wonderful watching these youngsters completely absorbed in creating each of their masterpieces.
Local Lovely Gives A Free PerformanceLocal Lovely Gives A Free Performance
Local Lovely Gives A Free Performance

Small children are natural performers!
An Uncommon SightAn Uncommon Sight
An Uncommon Sight

The sign reads "Open and free to visitors all year round". This is part of the Zhejiang Provincial Museum and a pleasant surprise to see no entrance fee!
Posh RestaurantPosh Restaurant
Posh Restaurant

The well-known upmarket restaurant called Louwailou Caiguan as mentioned previously.

9th June 2007

hi: nice to see your wonderful pictures again! i wonder how did you get those interesting historical stories, and surprised me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! look forward to your next travel crops!
16th June 2007

Hi! I never use this address, and I'm about to close it off..jenny1adventure@hotmail.com... I use whiteoceanwave@hotmail.com. Pls write me your emailaddress to that address please! would love to catch up with you! As i can see you have many stories to tell....and ..so have I.. Jenny

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