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West Lake & Cold Pints For JiangNi's Birthday

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Birthday Squeezes. What does one give his Squeeze for her birthday? A wonderfully long and romantic weekend at Hangzhou’s West Lake of course!

We’ve been trying for such a long time to find a way to combine both our lives and life styles but being so different when it comes to our personal thoughts on things that affect our working and personal lives directly we never really found or reached a conclusion. For those that are confused, I love teaching in small public schools in tiny city’s where it takes me as little as ten minutes to reach the first rice field and trying to think of changing that for a large city makes me cringe.

She on the other hand is the very opposite to me. Thankfully though, life has offered us a new door and pathway.

Tired of her fast paced life in Import & Export in Shenzhen city, several weeks ago JiangNi cleared her desk, packed her bags, gave me a surprise call after boarding the train my way and dropped in to stay awhile. However long 'awhile’ will turn out to be, we have no idea but what we do know is that we shall simply allow life to answer that question for us. It could be as short as a month or as long as…more than a month but for now there is no real need to ponder such things and create confusion.

The main thing for now is for her to rest and for us to spent valuable time together.

She loves to cook and for me, thankfully she is also a wonderful cook, I’m not one for creating sizzling sauces but I do enjoy visiting the local market, helping with the selection and then throwing on some music for us both to slice and dice by. Everything else (being a long term bachelor), is a breeze. Just don’t put me near stove as then everything and everyone around me will remain unroasted, healthy and full of life.

Somewhere in between selecting, slicing, dicing and sizzling JiangNi changed her age. When trying to scheme a surprise gift and party it all seemed to just fall into place.

Firstly the school took us out to welcome her to the city along with celebrating her birthday. The following night Travis, Alice, Zoe and I took her out for Hot Pot followed by a night of pool but the main gift came about though a conversation with a friend during which I found out that Hangzhou only three hours away by fast train and not the eight hours I thought it to be. .

And as they say, the rest is history!

<u>BEAUTIFUL HANGZHOU & DREAMY WEST LAKE</u>

The underwhelming suburban approach in to Hangzhou, past grim workers flats and numbing ceramic tile architecture, hardly prepares you for Hangzhou’s trump card; the gorgeous West Lake and its fabulously green and hilly environs. Praised by emperors and revered by poets, the lake has intoxicated the Chinese imagination for centuries. Its willow lined banks, ancient pagodas and mist covered hills are like stepping into a classical Chinese watercolour. Despite huge numbers of tourists, West Lake is a delight to explore either on foot or by bike. You need about three days to fully savour what is on offer, but the inclination is to take root, like one of the lakeside’s lilting willows, and stay put.

Hangzhou’s history dates to the start of the Qin Dynasty (221BC) and when Marco Polo passed through the city in the 13th century he called the city Kinsai and noted in amazement that Hangzhou had a circumference of one hundred miles while its waters were vaulted by twelve thousand bridges.

Although Hangzhou prospered greatly after it was linked with the Grand Canal in AD610, it really came into its own after the Song Dynsasty was overthrown by the invading Jurchin, predecessors of the Mancus. The Song capital of Kaifeng, along with the emperor and the leaders of the imperial court, was captured by the Jurchen in 1126 and the rest of the Song Court fled south, finally settling in the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty. Hangzhou’s wooden buildings made fire a perennial hazard; among major conflagrations, the great fire of 1237 reduced some thirty thousand residences to piles of smoking carbon. When the Mongols swept into China they established their court in Beijingh but Hangzhou however, retained its status as a prosperous commercial city.

With ten city gates by Ming times, Hangzhou took a hammering from Taiping rebels, who laid siege to the city in 1861 and captured it; two years later the imperial armies reclaimed it. These campaigns reduced almost the entire city to ashes, led to the deaths of over half a million of its residents through disease, starvation and warfare, and finally ended Hangzhou’s significance as a commercial and trading centre.

The Chinese tourist brochure hyperbole surrounding West Lake is, perhaps for the first time, almost justified in its shrill accolades. The very definition of classical beauty in China, West Lake continues to mesmerise while methodical prettification has worked a cunning magic. Pagoda topped hills rise over willow lined waters, while boats drift slowly through a vignette of leisurely charm. Originally a lagoon adjoining the Qiantang River, the lake didn’t come into existence until the eighth century, when the governor of Hangzhou had the marshy expanse dredged. As time passed the lake splendour was gradually cultivated; gardens were planted, pagodas built and causeways and islands were constructed from dredged silt.

Celebrated poet Su Dongpo himself had a hand in the lakes development, constructing the Su Causeway during his tenure as local government in the eleventh century. It wasn’t an original ideas the poet Bai Juyi had already constructed the Bai Causeway some two hundred years earlier. Lined by willow, plum and peach trees, today the traffic free causeways with their half-moon bridges make for excellent outings, particularly on a bike.

Connected to the northern shores by the Bair Causeway is Gushan Island, the largest island in the lake and the location of the Zhejiang Provincial Museum. The islands buildings and gardens were once the site of Emperor Qianlong’s eighteenth century holiday palace and gardens. Also on the island is the intriguing Seal Engravers Society, dedicated to the ancient art of carving the name seals (chops) that server as personal signatures. In the northwest, is the lovely Quyuan Garden, a collection of gardens spread out over numerous islets and renowned for its fragrant spring lotus blossoms. Near Xiling Bridge is the tomb of Su Xiaoxiao, a fifth century courtesan who died of grief while waiting for her lover to return. It has been said that her ghost haunts the area and the tinkle of the bells on her gown can be heard at night.

The smaller island in the lake is Xiaoying Island, where you can look over the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, three small towers in the water on the south side of the island; each has five holes that release shafts of candlelight on the night of mid-autumn festival. From Lesser Yingzhou Island, you can gaze over to Red Carp Pond which is home to several thousand red carp.

Topped with a golden spire, the eye catching Leifeng Pagoda can be climbed for fine views of the lake. The original pagoda, built in AD977 collapsed in 1924. During the most recent renovations in 2001, Buddhist scriptures written on silk were found in the foundation, along with other treasures and at the bottom of the pagoda is a museum with English captions.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS: Also a HUGE THANKS goes to American Allen for helping out with the hostel booking. Mate it was awesome to finally meet you and your tiny set of wheels buddy...and the Hangzhou info was from the one and only travellers bible, the Lonely Planet Guide! ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Augie March The album was &#8216;Sunset Studies’ ____________________________________________________________

Hangzhou For JiangNi&#38;#39;s Birthday

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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