Thursday, October 30, 2008

day 6: Heaven on Earth

There is a saying in chinese :"In the sky there is heaven, On earth there is SuZhou and HangZhou". This is a testament to the beauty of the two cities. Now I have been to Suzhou and while it has very beautiful gardens, I felt like it has fallen into disrepair and decay over the years. HangZhou, on the other hand, has developed its environment along with its industry and preserved all the great scenery. It totally lived up to its "heaven" title.

Today, I walked around West Lake, which takes about 3 hours if you don't stop and look at anything. I of course took all day as I had to look at EVERYTHING. We had a rare sunshine day today. The sky was blue, the breeze was cool. It was a perfect day for a lake trip. West Lake has various scenic spots around it that are little gardens in themselves that you can walk around, and in each pavilion, long hall way and bridge, you can see a different view of the lake. It was incredible. ALmost every corner we turn, we saw a different aspect of the lake, and the mountain surroundng it.

In the morning, we climbed GuShan, which is this small hill that overlooks the lake. It was still misty and cool in the morning, and we got to see West Lake shrouded in mystery. After that, we climbed down the other side and walked on SuTi, a pier that goes across the entire diameter of the lake. There are 6 bridges on the lake and each one is different. the entire walkway is full of willows, flowers, pavilions. I noticed when I was walking, how quiet it was. The only cars allowed on the causeway is these small open air tour busses that uses special quiet engine. All the boats and ferries on the lake also uses the quiet engine so you almost hear nothing of the city beyond. You can tell they put alot of thought into the maintenance of this area.

At the other end of SUTi, is a scenic spot called 'fish watching in the flower garden". There is a pond in there with thousands, I mean literally thousands of those red chinese goldfish. they all come ot the surface and expect to be fed haha.

Of course, i had to plan a banquet into the day. I decided we have to eat at the most famous restaurant in all of HangZhou 楼外楼. It is originally built in the 1800s and is the only restaurant allowed on the side of West Lake. they are famous for a variety of dishes that i will post pictures later. We sat outside so we got a lakeview while we ate. The price is actually not bad. It is about twice as expensive as normal restaurants. check that off my list of things to do.

After dinner, we decided to keep walking along the lake. We saw a musical fountain ala Bellagio, some very interesting bars and tea houses. At night, every single building along the lake is lit up, in fact, the entire hill of GuShan is lit up at night. every single tree has a light. It looked awesome. I can't imagine their electric bill tho. Also, we had to stop at the WestLake Hyatt for the cleanest bathroom in the land. In addition to having real toilet seats, they actually have Paper towels!!. They must have been imported from somewhere cause I have not seen paper towels anywhere else and they don't sell them in the market. I wish I can carry that Hyatt bathroom with me, alas, we were only able to steal a bunch of paper towels.

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