The best way to experience China is by travelling slowly. Rather, you will be forced to travel slow because of the lack of English sign boards throughout, so the only way for you to manoeuver is to ask the (English speaking) locals for directions.
With the help of a local friend, Charlie Li, I was able to reach a place called “West Lake” in Hangzhou, China.
The lake is divided into five sections by three causeways.
West Lake has many pagodas, temples and gardens inside. We walked for about 45 minutes and still we could cover only a small portion of the lake. Irrespective of the vast expanse of area, West Lake is extremely well maintained.
West Lake is very popular among locals for daily walking and jogging. It is also a famous tourist attraction in Hangzhou.
The government has built a walking path throughout the lake shore.
In some places the walking path transforms into a large meeting junction and again takes the shape of a walking path.
Minty Alert Some portion of the walking path does not have any railing to hold. One has to be extremely careful while walking, especially people with kids.
We also noticed some local artists performing in pagodas. My friend Charlie told me that they are singing an old Chinese poem. The quality of the sound produced by the artists was phenomenal.
West Lake is so popular that a miniature of the lake has been created in Japan.
The entire West Lake is photogenic, you can spend a lot of time in capturing great photos. Carrying a DSLR camera would be helpful in this place.
Guess what the below structure is? When I saw it first, I thought it was a great architecturally constructed building. When I went close to it and observed, I came to know that it was a house boat!
You can see the docking rope in the bottom-centre of the below picture.
Surprisingly, there is no entry fee to West Lake.
We couldn’t walk the entire lake stretch, so we exited and headed for lunch to a great local restaurant recommended by Charlie.
Before going to the restaurant, we did pay a visit to the local Starbucks to get a feel of the “localised-experience”. All employees were locals, except for the product names (cappuccino, venti, grande, et al) they didn’t speak anything else in English.
I could see somebody occupying an entire table with just one coffee in one hand, and a big fat book in other. There were another group of people discussing something with laptop on their centre table. So, the scene in Hangzhou Starbucks was nothing different from what we see in a Starbucks in India.
Roads in Hangzhou were super clean.
We headed to the restaurant for lunch. The highlight of the lunch was a Chicken dish that Charlie ordered. A full (cooked) Chicken was brought to our table, the steward just took four chopsticks, slid inside the chicken and opened its body wide in one easy shot. It resembled like someone taking a knife and cutting butter, it was that smooth. It was easily the softest cooked smoked chicken I ever had.
After our late lunch, we planned to head back to our hotel. We were trying to get a UBER, but all vehicles were far off from our location. So, Charlie flagged few private vehicles and one of them stopped by – it was a luxurious Volvo sedan. The owner was a lady who agreed to drop us at our destination for a price. We wouldn’t recommend travellers stopping private vehicles and requesting a ride though it is quite common here.
By the way, did you observe the 4- wheeled bike in the picture below?