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R.P. BenDedek

Trip Around West Lake (Xi Hu) in Hangzhou 2012
By R.P. BenDedek
Aug 12, 2012 - 7:13:31 AM

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Beautiful China - Westlake Hangzhou
This story concerns the second phase of a trip I took at the end of June 2012 and this version, to suit publication at Magic City Morning Star News, has been adapted from the original at Kingscalendar.

I commenced the first story by saying:

After years of living in China, I finally got around to organizing a trip to Tibet. I was due to pay for the trip at the End of June and I was to go in October during the Chinese National Holiday. If you have been wondering why the Chinese Government put a ban on foreigners going to Tibet, then now you know the reason. It was to stop me!

As the friend I was going to Tibet with was coming to Shanghai for a conference at the end of June, it was arranged that we spend some time travelling together and so it was that we went off to Xitang Town - the subject of the first story.

I ended that story by relating that on Sunday 24th of June we caught the local bus to Jiaxing and after an appointment I had there, we took a train to Hangzhou. We stayed in Hangzhou Sunday and Monday nights and on Tuesday, my friend Mingxing went back to Shanghai to prepare for his conference, and I headed back to Suzhou.

"Remains of Temporary Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty"
This little story about our time in Hangzhou is mostly photographic in nature (within the context of the original article). The photographs on this page are different to the ones in the Kingscalendar Version, and additionally there is a second page at kingscalendar containing more photos, many of which are accompanied by text transcribed from Signs and notices found in those locations.

In this story you will not only see [again!] how Murphy's Law follows me wherever I go, but some photographs and commentary relating to an almost identical trip to West Lake, that I took in 2007.

West Lake in Hangzhou

While Mingxing (Mike Zhang - originally from Hong Hu but who works in Chengdu City Sichuan Province) was waiting for me to conclude my business in Jiaxing, he organized a hotel for us to stay in. This was done through C trip.

Since we both live in China and earn a Chinese salary, and since we merely need a bed to sleep in and a bathroom to wash in, we do not usually stay in expensive hotels when we travel. And so it was that he booked us into the Hotel Ibis Hangzhou Song Dynasty (Ibis Hangzhou Nansong Yujie Hotel - 193 Middle Zhongshan Road Tel 86 (0) 057156105888). [This Hotel only has a Chinese Website]

I have used C Trip for years and I usually find something wrong with each room - which is why they are always cheap, but this was a very nice newly refurbished room and bathroom; its drawback being that there were no windows. But it was so cheap given its location on the Southern Song Dynasty Royal Road - the subject of the next Article.

Mingxing and I arrived in Hangzhou before sunset and were really impressed with the location of the Hotel, and after a shower and a rest we went out to explore the area. Next morning we set off for Westlake.

We actually walked to the lake from the Ibis Hotel and we entered by the Golden Buffalo, the photo for which and text of the signs can be found in 'the companion file'. A hop skip and a jump from there we began our circumnavigation of the Lake.

Not far from the Golden Buffalo is another sign entitled "Displaying Horsemanship and Archery at the Pavilion Bend" and from memory, it was in the area of a big concrete map built into the footpath. The map was very neatly done.

2007 Chiara coming down the stairs from the pagoda
Mingxing and I spent perhaps 3 hours in all walking from the Golden Buffalo up to the exit opposite Yue Fei's Temple and Tomb (First photo in 'the companion file') and not far from that exit we came to a museum. Here is where Murphy's Law comes in.

In 2007, Chiara and I had visited the museum because 'that's what she loved to do' (as well as racing everywhere at 100 miles an hour which she could do because she is a meticulous planner who knows EXACTLY where she is going, what she is going to do, what she shall see there and how much it will cost.) Me? Museums don't interest me all that much but on that occasion I remember reading a sign in English about the Communist Party National Congresses in the early 1920's, in which it said (at least in my memory) that it was decided at that National Congress to take control of China by whatever means possible.

I wanted to go back to the museum and transcribe that notice so that I could quote it to the students who like to maintain that Mao Zedong took control of China because the KMT (Guomingdang) were corrupt. They wouldn't believe me when I told them what I had seen on the sign in the museum.

When Mingxing suggested going to West Lake I informed him that I had been there before and was happy to go back 'as long as we pay a visit to the museum'. So there we were, walking along (prior to arriving [I think] at the "Remains of Temporary Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty" and the "Residence of Yu Yue"), when Mingxing looks up and says: "There is the museum, but it looks like it is closed!" - to which I responded: "Of course it is closed, but it will be open tomorrow!"

"How do you know that?" he asks.

"Because I am here today and not tomorrow!" I replied.

When we got closer he went over to the sign at the closed gates, read it and then came back to inform me that the Museum is open to the public every day but Monday. - And that my friends is Murphy's Law!"

One view of "Residence of Yu Yue"

Relics of the Temporary Imperial Palace Hangzhou

More from the Temporary Qing Dynasty Palace

A Failed attempt to get a good picture from inside the Temporary Qing Dynasty Palace
Check Here to see what this sign means. A Chinese friend with me at the time of writing this article checked his dictionary and came up with different translations - so I have no idea what the sign means except that it has something to do with something and provides perspective to the background.

This photo was taken from inside the "Remains of Temporary Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty" complex through the dark doorway which would have been great if I only could have got a good clear still shot of it, but people kept coming and going and the only photo without people in it is crooked.

From the ruins we continued on our way to the Residence of Yu Yue and the aforementioned 'Closed' Museum and to the tombs of Su Xiaoxiao and Wu Song the photographs for which appear in the companion article. Then we went to lunch, exiting near Yue Fei's Temple.

Mingxing had received a phone call from a friend who thought he was either in Shanghai or Chengdu, and when she discovered that he was in Hangzhou, she informed him that she was also in Hangzhou and would like to invite us to lunch. Mingxing had informed her that he was traveling with a friend but had failed to mention that that friend was a foreigner. Before catching a taxi to the restaurant at which we were to meet, I informed Mingxing that I wished to sit down for a little while and thoroughly enjoy a cigarette.

While he went for a little walk up the street, I sat down on a garden bed to enjoy my smoke. About 6 feet away to my right there was seated a young man whom I judge to have been about 20 years old. As I was enjoying my cigarette another young man approached us. He was staring directly at me. I smiled at him and in that typical inscrutable Chinese style, his face showed no reaction at all.

2007 photo on the way up to a pagoda.

A Monkey in a tree 2007 at the same location as photo above on the trail up to a very pointy Pagoda whose name I do not remember.
Stopping in front of the other young man he said in Chinese: 'Did you see that old foreign [expletive] beside you?"

"Yes!" replied the other.

"How old do you reckon he is?"

"No idea!"

"Must be very old! Just look at his hands". (He didn't! He at least was polite.)

For my part while this brief conversation was taking place, I continued smoking whilst looking directly into the face of the impolite boy - with a big Cheshire cat grin on my face.

Mingxing's friend had been staying with an Aunt who had opened a new restaurant, and together with some other friends, we had been invited to dine there (to financially help Aunty). Fortunately, most of the guests at our table were able to speak English, although most of the conversation was in Chinese.

I admit that I was a little peeved that we had had to interrupt our plans in order to go to lunch, but given how hot we had become on our walk, the rest in the restaurant proved quite refreshing even if it did make me reluctant to returning to our walk. When the time came we took a taxi back to Yu Fei's Temple and recommenced our journey around the lake. (See Companion File at "The Jade-Belt Bridge")

As mentioned in the companion article, I didn't take a photograph of "The Jade-Belt Bridge" (The sign of which I photographed and transcribed), but after crossing it somewhere along the way, we came across some place with sculptures of wine merchants. I have no photographs of signs in the area so either there weren't any or I forgot.

As we were travelling on our way we saw a number of different sites including a gateway which prohibited entrance and which thusly forced us to retrace our steps. When we did, we came across a lovely middle-late age couple seated on a bench by the lake, singing along with songs on some type of recorder. I stopped for quite a time listening to them, and took some videos. It was really a peaceful and enjoyable experience.

2007 on the left and 2012 on the right

When Chiara and I did the trip in 2007, West Lake was absolutely crowded, but on this trip there were comparatively few people around as can be seen in the photo above. I have to admit here that I was just following Mingxing except for when I bought an ice cream at a little store behind the Costa Coffee building prior to going to lunch. I was wondering how much the ice cream would cost when I heard one of the female attendants refer to me as 'a foreigner' at which point I told her that I was actually Chinese. This started off a delicious conversation with lots of laughing and joking and them wanting to see my passport.

  • (Because I speak Chinese with a 'local/common accent' I love to confuse people by telling them that I am Chinese from the North West Muslim province of Xin Jiang. The week after this trip I was in a supermarket in Shanghai and someone behind me said: 'Look! A foreigner!'. Without turning around I said: 'I am from Xin Jiang!' Then the voice replied: 'You are ALSO from Xin jiang?' I turned around to find myself face to face with some Muslims. oooppss! Caught out!)

Costa Coffee on the Lake

Some of the Tourist Boats you can travel on at West Lake
Now as I have already stated, I just followed Mingxing around and while I took lots of photographs (including some of the Chinese Olympic Rowing Team), upon reviewing the photographs I have to admit that I have no idea where we were. (Now you know why photographs are generally consecutively presented.) Eventually we came to Leifeng Pagoda.

In the companion article I have provided a transcription of information on this marvelous tower. It is quite impressive. Recently rebuilt with the original foundations in place and able to be viewed from two levels, there is an escalator to convey one to the entrance and it has an elevator to take one to the top where there are numerous exquisite displays and of course fantastic views of West Lake.

We had done a lot of walking that day and I was fairly exhausted when I got to the top of the pagoda so when I saw the view I said to Mingxing: 'If we had come here first I wouldn't have bothered walking around the lake'.

I found both the views and the historical information on the tower inspiring. Years ago I made a point of watching a TV program called White Snake Green Snake and as it transpires, that story is intimately connected to Leifeng Pagoda. We spent quite a bit of time in Leifeng Pagoda before leaving to take a cab back to our hotel. On the way out we read all the signs about the Pagoda's history and the Story of Lady White Snake.

We also stopped so that Mingxing could duck into a little temple beside the Pagoda. I took the opportunity to sit on a fence and have a cigarette. While doing so I notice 2 young couples at the entrance and one of the boys looked at me, smiled, said something to his girlfriend who then produced a camera and then made a beeline for me so he could have his photo taken with a 'real live foreigner'. We foreigners probably have our photos taken more often than movie stars.

Mingxing by a gate waiting for me to come out but I cheated and came out through a tea shop

Yes - Good Question. 2007 photo of something somewhere in Hangzhou - perhaps in the area of Yu Fei's Temple and Tomb
On the way back to the hotel, Mingxing told me that we had been invited to a dinner that night where there were to be more of his friends in attendance. I decided to opt out of that invitation and let him go on his own. For my part, I took a long cold shower; had a 90 minute rest; and then I headed out to buy some MacDonald's on the Royal Road; look around again, and check out the prices of jewelry.

While I was looking at jewelry, Mingxing phoned to say that he was 5 minutes from the hotel and that I should meet him since I had the room key. While waiting for him outside the Ibis hotel, I saw the darndest sight ever. For a few brief seconds it thoroughly threw me.

The Ibis Hotel has a glass elevator running up the exterior wall and while waiting I happened to glance up and saw the lift coming down. Inside the elevator I saw a man doing a hand stand on the railing. It really sent me into a spin until I realized that I was actually looking at the mirror on the roof of the elevator and the guy was merely holding the railing.

Our plan for the next day was that Mingxing would return to Shanghai to attend his conference and I would return to Suzhou for 2 days. But before we departed, I just had to go out and take some photographs of this Southern Song Dynasty Royal Road. We had walked around it on Sunday night, and I had gone out again Monday night, but Tuesday morning quite early, I took off to get some photographs, and those photographs have already been published in a separate file at Kingscalendar.

R.P. BenDedek
Email:
rpbendedek@hotmail.com

Published November 4th at Kingscalendar:


R.P.BenDedek (pseudonym) is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (
http://www.kingscalendar.com ), and is a guest columnist and stand-in Editor at Magic City Morning Star News. He is also the Editor of the 'Writers Journal' at Kingscalendar.com. An Australian, he has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003.

Writers Journal Kingscalendar

"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.


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