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24/06/2013

Things to do in Hangzhou II

7. Su Causeway - Walk, Ride, or Bike

The Su Causeway is a north-south pedestrian-only path that cuts through the western part of West Lake, popular attraction included in affordable China travel packages. The causeway is 2.6 km long, and it contains several bridges under which small boats can pass through. There are many trees, grassy areas, and benches (good for picnic) all along the way, so if you're not in a hurry, you could plan on strolling the entire length of the Su Causeway. Alternatively, there are electric trams you can take to make the sightseeing faster, but beware that the trams only run in one direction - from south to north on the Su Causeway - and in the clockwise direction around the West Lake. So be sure to plan ahead accordingly, in which order you want to see the sites. You can also rent a bike if you prefer, but you will have a dodge a lot of people when the causeway is very crowded.

8. Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon

This is one of the famous scenic spots along the West Lake. The "Three Ponds (or Pools) Mirroring the Moon" is actually located on an interesting island which contains four lakes itself. You will also notice that this scene can be found on the back of the 1 yuan bill. A good place for some memorable photographs of the lake and the Leifeng Pagoda in the distance. However, since this is on an island, it can become extremely crowded with tourists and tourist groups. It is probably best to go early in the morning.

9. China Silk Museum

This excellent museum is located south of West Lake and is the first state-level professional silk museum in China as well as the biggest silk museum throughout the world. It opened to the public in 1992 and since 2004, people can visit it for free. The museum introduces the 5000-year-long history of Chinese culture silk which in ancient China was experted to the west along Silk Road route (Silk Road tours). China is the earliest country that engaged in sericulture, filature and making clothes with silk. It details what it takes to produce and make silk garments and then exhibits such garments. There's also a shop were you buy silk items.

10. Original Leifeng Pagoda

You can still see the old brick structure of the original Leifang Pagoda which collapsed in 1924. The reason why it fell down is quite a strange one. Due to a superstition that bricks from the tower could repel illness or prevent miscarriage, many people stole bricks from the tower to grind into powder. On the afternoon of September 25th, 1924, the pagoda finally collapsed due to disrepair. On March 11, 2001 a mausoleum was excavated and many treasures were found, most notably a gold and silver coated hair of the Buddha.

11. The Long Bridge

This "bridge" is more a zigzag platform located in the far south-eastern corner of West Lake. In the Song dynasty (960-1279) there was a bridge spanning a big outlet of the lake out of the Qianhu Gate. The story goes that some 820 years ago, a local boy and girl committed suicide by throwing themselves at night into the lake from the bridge under which two lotus flowers came into bloom immediately. With the passage of time, the outlet gradually silted up and the bridge turned into a short one. This bridge was built in 2002 to cover its original length. For more about the Bridget via China tour operator.

12. Lingyin Temple

This temple is without doubt a premier showpiece in the West Lake environs and is notable also as one of the ten most famous Buddhist temples of China. The presence of a temple on this site can be traced back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420 AD) when, according to local legend, Hui Li, an Indian monk, came to the area where he was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery to be found here. To his mind this had to be a dwelling of the Immortals and so he gave the temple a name "Ling Yin" (Temple of the Soul's Retreat). At its peak under the Kingdom of Wuyue (907-978), the temple boasted nine multi-storey buildings, 18 pavilions, 72 halls, more than 1300 dormitory rooms, inhabited by more than 3000 monks. It has been rebuilt no less than sixteen times since then. The current buildings are modern restorations of late Qing buildings. During the Cultural Revolution, the temple and grounds suffered some damage at the hands of Red Guards. However, they escaped large scale destruction partly because of the protection of Premier Zhou Enlai.

The above-mentioned attractions make contribution to local China tourism.

10:26 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

Things to do in Hangzhou I

The following is the things you can do in Hangzhou, the tourist destination for last minute China travel deals.

1. Wulin Road

If you are looking for night life as shopping district, dinning, spa, and etc. Wulin District is the perfect location to do that. It is away from Xihu. You can take bus 28 from Xihu, or Taxi costs you around Y15.

If you prefer to stay away from Xihu, this area might be an alternative. Plenty of nice hotels.

When I was there, the metro was under construction.

2. Eat a bowl of Lan Zhou La Mian

Okay, I'm absolutely enamoured with this simple meal of a bowl of freshly pulled noodles, garnished with thinly sliced beef or lamb and Chinese coriander and parsley, in hot, piping soup...

YUM!!!

Lan Zhou La Mian is a chain of small noodle shops that are Halal as they are run by the Muslim Chinese. You can find this chain in Shanghai (travel city for best tours of China) and Hainan as well... didn't look for it when I was in Beijing and Suzhou the last time... but it's here in Hangzhou too.

For just about 5 yuan a bowl (plus or minus a yuan, depending on the location), this is a superb bowl of noodles that will fill your tummy with all it's delicious goodness.

I first tasted this in Shanghai in Jan 2007 and have never forgotten it -- after all, when I first tried this, it was in cold winter... :) A bowl always reminds me of the beautiful time I had in winter in Shanghai...

La Mian (hand-pulled noodles) is just amazing as they are freshly made and pulled out of a lump of dough on the spot, making the noodles extra springy in texture.

Hope you find it just as delightful! :)

3. Take a Boat Ride

A relaxing and fun activity to take a boat ride that's paddled across the lake by a boatman.

The boat can sit up to 4 - 6 pax (depending on your size) and it's an idyllic way to spend some time to enjoy the view and the weather.

There are also boats you can rent to paddle yourself, but I think having a relaxing ride in the boat is more enjoyable :)

There are super big ferries but these tend to be very crowded -- especially during Peak China travel periods... when I was there in Apr, it was very crowded with lots of mainland tourists visitng Hangzhou as well in large tour groups!

4. Impression Hangzhou by Zhang Yimou

This is the best attraction because it's just magical how they transform a portion of the lake into a fantastical stage!

Enjoy the dramatic show featuring a universal story-line of love lost and gained in a number of short vignettes, each as stunning and impressive as the other.

I was there in April and the weather was still chilly in the evening -- you will be seated along the bank of the West Lake and you will have a full view of the 'stage'.

It's an amazing combination of musical, lights and water -- jazzed up to complement compelling stories...

I super recommend this as I found it such a beautiful and innovative use of technology to bring the West Lake to a new level of entertainment.

(p.s. I heard that the one in Guilin (Liu San Jie) is better, but have not seen it yet...)

5.West Lake

Hangzhou West Lake is the most impressive and famous one. This partially man made lake was shaped throughout the centuries by the many Chinese dynasties that ruled the empire, specially Wuyue Kingdom and the Southern Song Dynasty and was one of the favorite imperial retreats.

The lake occupies an area of around 6 km square and resembles a lot like a large and impressive Chinese garden that beautifully integrates with the surrounding mountains, serene forests, stone caves, and ancient buildings.

Hangzhou West Lake is also famous for its rich cultural history and is associated with many national heroes, scholars and revolutionary martyrs and had Marco Polo, the Italian explorer, among its visitors.

6. Explore the West Lake via Cycling

Why not cycling around the West Lake? Fyi, below is one route around the Lake: rent a bike at the Pubic Bicycle Service, start your cycling from The No.1 Lakeside Park at the beginning of Nanshan road(South of West Lake--->West Lake Xintiandi, Yong Jing Park, West Lake Museum, King Qian's Temple--->Orioles Singing in the Willows--->Xue Shi Park--->Long Bridge Park,Leifeng Pagoda, Jing Ci Temple, Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill, Taizi Bay Park---->Flower Pond--->Su Causeway, Mausoleum of General Yue Fei--->Beihan Road, Xiling Seal Society, Zhejiang Provincial Museum--->Solitary Hill, Bai Causeway, Broken Bridge--->the No. 6 Lakeside Park, Hu Bin Business Street--->End and back the bike. You will get a full day~~~^^ Just don't forget to carry with your passport for rental enregistering. Good experience in Hangzhou^^

Hangzhou is very top and best destination in China for popular China travel package.

10:21 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

21/06/2013

Yarkand- Yarqant in Kashgar

Four hours by bus (about 26 RMB, 27 with PICC insurance... return cost about 20.75 RMB (unit of China money) with insurance...) takes you to Yarkand... if the bus has A/C it's bearable.

Yarkand has an old town, near the mosque... I recommend going to the mosque just after prayer on Friday... in the afternoon. It's hot, but quite the sight to see all the old, bearded Muslim men wandering about, buying meat rotting in the sun, seated in the shade pointing and staring at the strange pinkish things wandering around...


It's a hot place in early August, but there are lots of vendors with cold drinks. Wandering around the old town can be interesting, but for us it was a bit of a disappointment, though a lot less touristy than Kashgar (one destination for Silk Road travel).

The ride back was more crowded, on a full bus that thankfully didn't pick up any more people than the seats would hold. In both directions there are many police checkpoints, some will require your passport or ID if you're Chinese or local. The sun is beautiful setting over the vast expanses of desert, and the night, of course, cools to a quite comfortable level.

In our bus back, a lively conversation of laughter and some sort of poll or bet going on, with money passing to one of the men occupied some time... maybe they were taking bets on how long the American would last with a large backpack on his lap... For me, the trip back was almost unbearably long... seemed like time began moving counter clockwise... I don't know why, but Kashgar was a welcome sight.


I think part of it involved a lot of unwanted attention early on in the ride from the men... not threatening at all, but a bit disconcerting when you're surrounded by them and they're all traveling together... the mind can wander into uncomfortable places. Are they taking lots for my bag contents?

But you take solace in the fact that they aren't Chinese and you aren't Chinese and therefore they have no reason to dislike you. Then you try to think about what they're laughing about, enjoying the sounds of a bus full of local men having a good time for your best tours of China. You watch the desert growing dark, the bright lights of the cars and lightless donkey carts risking the night roads, motorcyclists darting into the beams as if the bus is but a ghost, or physics doesn't apply to them... kids running along the road... but, surprisingly, almost, the bus driver is very safe and consciencious of the people on the road... as have been all of our drivers to date.


In short, Yarkand didn't feel like it was worth the sweat and annoyance. In some ways it wasn't. Seeing the Mosque was worthwhile, but even more so, possibly, was walking through the graveyard with men knelt in prayer on the dusty earth to which we all return. The fine plumes that lifted off their "sandaled" feet at each step, wafted up to their praying hands, their murmurs of prayer unhalted at the sight of ill-dressed foreigners.

I don't want to recommend walking through the graveyard only because it's such a unique place and I'd hate to spoil the reflective natural environment, where the dead rest in the shade of what look like Eucalyptus. If it becomes too popular, the Chinese have a tendency to build a fence, pave the walkways and charge admission. So, if you go, keep the camera low. I took one or two shots, when no one was looking, to remember the place, but the feeling... it can't capture the motion, the peace and the people.

I'm not sure if they were happy we were there, though we walked quietly and with due respect. We just happened upon it, looking for something else. It was one of those finds, one of those times in travel where you don't go to a sight, but you find something truly unique. Had there been no people there, it would have felt like any other graveyard. Anyway, I digress.

Yarkand, in retrospect, was worth the trip. It's hard to say why, exactly, other than what I've written already, but it was worth the trip for China travel.

10:00 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)