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  • Writer's pictureJohnny

Hangin' in Hang Zhou (杭州)

Heading to West Lake

In a spur of the moment decision, my girlfriend bought tickets to go to Hang Zhou. All I knew about Hang Zhou before this trip was that Hang Zhou had good tea. We woke up early to head to the metro. Then boarded the railroad to Hang Zhou.

It had been a while since I've ridden the trains in China. The ride went by smoothly, only taking an hour and a half. Comfortable seats, not crowded, and getting through security was a breeze. Stepping out of the train you could feel the air was different. Hang Zhou definitely had its own feeling to it. A different hustle and bustle to that of Shanghai.

Peeling through the maze of Hang Zhou's metro tunnels; we headed for our destination. West Lake (西湖). A famous tourist destination in the city's scenic area. A short ride on Line 1 took us to the popular lake. Emerging from the underground, I was surprised to see how beautiful the city was.

Fresh Air, Green Trees

The metro station popped us out in the usual city square. Malls, restaurants, and stores surrounded us. Big brands like Adidas, Louis Vuitton, and more had large advertising everywhere. A block away the roads turned green with trees, and the buildings became more modest. Finding the lake was easy as it could be seen through all the trees and traffic. The weather was warm but a fog stayed over the lake for most of the day. Giving an almost eerie feeling to the landscape. Golden Boats would emerge from the fog, the rising sun glinting off of the ornate decorations.

The quiet lake was completely surrounded by walking trails, food stands, and ever peaceful greenery. Due to the warmer weather, many others were enjoying the sun shine. Old aunties and uncles gathered together. Garbed in traditional clothes, dancing the day away to music. Tourists from all around could be seen walking the paths, carrying with them various popular snacks and souvenirs. Then there were the locals who stood out among the crowds of visitors. Many using the lake's various paths as ways to get to work. Or simply finding their own secret spot to have lunch.

Although we walked around all day we still didn't get to see everything that West Lake had to offer. We went to a nearby mall for some food, walked around the parks taking pictures, and simply took in the sights. There was too much to see in our short time there; so we just enjoyed what we could.

Chinese girl captivated by pomello tree.

Boat Ride to the End

Bellies full of roasted fish and many milk teas. Feet sore from walking the brick pathways. We decided to get a boat ride around the lake. Luck was in our favor, as we had bought tickets for the last boat out on the lake. Stepping onto the dark wood floors, the boat rocked slightly. Other couples huddled together, muttering quiet conversation. Eyes all looking out towards the sun setting over the lake.

The boat engine puttered to life. Slowly, the wooden vessel pushed it's way through the water towards the island in the middle of the lake. The little island was disappointing at first. It was crowded with people and little souvenir shops stood in the pathways. Once we brushed our way through the crowded pier, it became quite peaceful. Historical landmarks were all around the little island as well as a couple traditional Chinese structures. You could even see temples off in the distance. It all felt like I was in a Kung Fu flick. Images from Hero and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon came to mind.

"This all feels very Chinese", I said to myself.

"Of course it does, we're in China", quipped my girlfriend.

My rolling eyes were interrupted by the sudden sound of a loud speaker. The boats were getting ready to leave. Taking a couple of last minute photos, we pattered through the bamboo. The ride back was quiet. Small waves lapped up against the ship's sides. Gently rocking the boat. My girlfriend, asleep on my shoulder. My mind, thinking over all that we saw today.

It was a good trip.


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