Hangzhou – so saith Marco Polo.
Allegedly, when the Italian merchant explorer Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the late 1200s, he said it was the most beautiful city he had ever seen. Unfortunately, I’ll not do this city justice in this post. Since China blocks WordPress, I’m now sitting in Jordan (actually Israel by now), we’re about eight posts behind, so here’s the abbreviated blog on Hangzhou.
I was going to leave the post as just the paragraph above, since I have already posted it erroneously and the notifications already went out, but Kiran says we have to do the city justice, but I procrastinated, so, per Kiran:
Hangzhou is a small lake town just outside of Shanghai. It is where people go to escape from the city life. Kind of like how Santa Barbara is to Los Angeles. Of course a small city in China still is a population of 8 million, so the city really isn’t that small.
The main focus of this town is its famous West Lake. Spanning 6.5km, this lake offers plenty of beautiful scenes around the perimeter in the forms of gardens, monuments, pathways, etc. People are playing cards, singing or practicing their calligraphy using water on the dry ground. Stopping in this town for just two days, we joined the many that just take a casual stroll along the lake. It took us about 5 hours to walk around it. Here are some photos:
Walkway in the middle of the lake
The best part about China is that you can take a leisurely stroll and stumble upon some really historic sites. We just happened to find a thousand year wild old palace that nobody was visiting so we had the whole complex to ourselves.
In the evening we attended the West Lake Impression show. We heard that it was a music and light show on the lake but didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately the show didn’t allow photography and we tried to be respectful of that. Although we probably were the only attendees that obeyed the rules…almost. Scott says Chinese tourists have no manners at all. Here are a few photos but they really don’t do the show justice. Even the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy a couple of years ago. The West Lake impression show was absolutely incredible and depicted a compelling love story. It makes a Disneyland/World show look like a high school production:
I’m not sure Marco Polo would still call Hungzhou the most beautiful city in the world were he to see it today. Paris is really tough to beat. But it’s certainly worth a trip if you happen to be in the area.