Hangzhou : The Red Umbrella and the Lake
Hangzhou Travel Blog› entry 169 of 268 › view all entries
Iām sorry. I canāt quite see you over there. Shrouded as you are - at a distance - in soft but determined white mist. Itās an eerily beautiful and atmospheric day today. Besides the veiled waters of one of Chinaās most famous and revered lakes. The āWest Lakeā (Xi Hu) of Hangzhou. Iām sorry, can you see me over here? No, no, over here. Yeah, yeah just a little further to the right. Try and focus on the orange beacon hair if you can. Got me? Tourists in the mist.
Iāve arrived at these shores via a night train from Beijing to Shanghai (a pricey little skip at 320RMB / $47 for āhard sleeperā berth), a quick ride on the Shanghai Metro to dump the vast majority of my possessions at the āEtour Youth Hostelā and then a train straight on down South to Hangzhou (25RMB/ $3.
But Hangzhouās no runt of the litter of super-sized Sino-cities. With a population of nearly 8 million it's not to be sniffed at but whilst I am not there long enough to be any fair judge of its character and composition, the significant urban sprawl is softened by the presence of sedate natural surroundings around its periphery and of course, the jewel set in its now concrete and neon heart. West Lake.
Some would say the weather for my day and a half there was ābadā. Disappointing at least. And on the morning of my full day in town it rains with enough persistency, if not force, to dampen my spirits momentarily.
A very gentle day. Painted in muted greens, white and grey. My achievements today are nothing more intended and nothing more achieved than strolling around the shores of the West Lake. Slow, calm and happy. My feet, my toes are getting pretty battered up now from so much urban trudging - as they do periodically - and long walks are becoming quite uncomfortable but Iām taking it reeeal easy today. Hobble hobble limp limp.
The mists assist my becalmed state of mind. Too fast I have tired of the urban rush of Chinaās East coast. Too tired of it all after nearly 9 months on The Road maybe? The urban has been swallowed by the fog today though.
Boats of varying sizes glide silently in and out of the glowing white pall.
Sad statues sit alone in the mist. Tearful maybe? Networks of walkways and arched bridges trace paved labyrinths over the lakes surface. Pavilions reflected in still waters. Invested with greater spiritual aura than usual thereby. Lillys clutch diamonds to their chests. Small Herons stare undaunted. I stop for some green tea accompanied by Mr Nicholas Nickleby. The Bai Causeway. The Lotus Garden. People cycle about on the many hire-bikes to be found in Hangzhou. A man walks across water. I don't know how. Fish splash. A lady embroiders to pass the time in the company of her father. A man with no hands sits upon the apex of a bridge of the Su Causeway (its end lost in mist) playing Auld Lang Sine on a harmonica again and again.
And thatās pretty much it. I catch a taxi to Jingjingās designated hotel. A Nanjing born, Shanghai based architect called to her Hangzhou company headquarters for two weeks. She was unable to house me in Shanghai owing to this change of scene but is kindly chuckinā me the spare bed in her plush enough hotel room. We have fun over dinner. A real angel in both form and friendliness but foolishly I neglected to take a photo with her. Sorry! Stuffed to the gills we take an eerie, misty, moody night black, fright black stroll besides the lake before turning in. My feet really hurt now. Which is a problem as Iām off to Huangshan to climb the āYellow Mountainsā tomorrow.