What’s the Deal With the West Lake?


There is something breathtaking that just makes you want to stop time and pick out every drop of that scene and imprint it permanently in your brain, logged under the file name: ‘never forget this not matter how many ex-girlfriends’ names you have to forget’.

You hear it everywhere in China, some old famous saying that goes something like, “ Up there is heaven, down here is Su and Hang”. Hangzhou is considered one of the most beautiful cities in China.

Every Chinese person you talk with, no matter if they have been to Hangzhou or not, will always recommend it as one of the ‘can’t miss’ places to visit while trekking through the Middle Kingdom.

It would be considered tourist sacrilege liken unto avoiding the forbidden city or the terracotta warriors, if you didn’t at least spend a few precious moments soaking in the beauty of the West Lake.

For a backpacker like myself, Hangzhou could be summed up in one word – relaxing. Sure, the city has advanced, biting the heels of Shanghai, but the West Lake area of Hangzhou hasn’t lost any of its revitalizing vigor.

This is especially true during the foggy season. There’s a period of time around early February when the fog is especially thick early in the mornings. If you catch it, it just takes your breath away.

I woke around 5:30am in the morning just to see this site and it was worth it. Wave after wave of fog pellets came crashing through the West Lake. It was like I was watching a scene from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon live.

It was almost as if the fog was dancing; rhythmic sounds of a master erhu specialist ;every wave seemed timed perfectly. In the middle of this naturalistic symphony floated one stray boat, one unmanned boat that I assume late that night became untethered from the dock and had been floating along peacefully through the almost still waters.

Not too Chinese …


Some people come to China and they end up latching onto similarities with their own country, and it’s not that hard to find, especially in Hangzhou.

Most of the service industry here speaks English, it’s not to hard to find some western food (I mean they got the Whopper and Papa John’s within earshot of the West Lake), and most of the important signs are readable in English.

It’s not too hard to have what I would consider a “foreigner’s vacation for China” where everything looks slightly different from home but not by not by too much.

But that one pristine moment is why I think the poet who wrote that saying got it right; there is something relaxing in watching the wonders of nature if only for a moment.

There is something breathtaking that just makes you want to stop time and pick out every drop of that scene and imprint it permanently in your brain, logged under the file name: ‘never forget this not matter how many ex-girlfriends names you have to forget’.

So, for all you would be backpackers out there, who want a relaxing, calming break from the big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, take a moment (maybe two), hop on a train and spend a couple days in Hangzhou and hopefully you’ll find it has relaxing as I did!!!! Peace-out hombres!

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