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I took the opportunity to visit Hangzhou, Wuzhen, Shanghai this November.
My first stop was Hangzhou. A now famous saying goes:"above there is heaven, below there is Hangzhou"with the world famous West Lake, its surrounding forested mountains, and temples of historical, cultural significance, the city earn itself the claim of "paradise on the earth"I spent a few days there visiting the world-famous West Lake Feilaifeng, Linyin Temple, wondering the old street, trying the delicious food...
This famous beauty has been symbol of Hangzhou. For centuries, Chinese poets made innumerous famous lines praising its supernatural charm. Famous Song dynasty poet-Sushi once compared the lake to beautiful women. The lake is 3km long and 3 km wide, comprising a number of sights, some with such romantic names Autumn Moon on a Calm lake, Three Pools Embracing the Moon.
A stroll along any portions of the lake's shore or along the either of the two causeways-Bai Causeway, Su Causeway in autumn sunshine is delightful. For those who do not want to walk too long, Tourist buses No.1 and No 3 running between sights in the West Lake scenic area are good options.
Feilaifeng means peak that flew from afar. It is a 209 meters limestone peak. The peak was said to fly over from India and set here. (Why India not USA or Britain; I had no idea) Near the peak is Feilaifeng Grottos, a series of status, carvings, and etchings. 330 or so Buddhist statues scattered the grottos. The stone figures interestingly appear in a variety of poses, standing, sitting, sleeping, squatting.?
It is a typical Buddhist temple located on a secluded valley northwest of the lake. We saw many halls and Buddhist statues in the temple. The temple is very popular with pilgrims and I saw many worshipping there. Many Chinese tourists were kneeling there before a huge Buddhist statue burning incense for good luck.
Two places worth a special mention here are the Westlake New Era(Xihu xin dian di) and Hefang Old Street. Westlake New Era is a bustling shopping and entertaining center with shops, bars, and clubs. A leisurely walk at night around this area will prove a surreal experience. Most of all it is one of the best place to enjoy the night scenery of the West Lake. Hefang Street is a well-designed aged street, which is the epitome of old Hangzhou. The original one was destroyed and the one tourists see today was the replica finished in 2002. It is a pedestrian shopping area where old, probably restored, buildings line the street, housing souvenir shops, restaurants and tea houses. I was amazed at the number of Chinese tourists walking around the street. There were so many of them. I was stump on by a tobacco shop, where presented a very big pipe, which was as tall as one storey.
The Hefang Street is otherwise known as Snack Street for the diverse food it serves. The street clearly caters to tourist from all around china, while at the same time highlighting the specialties for which Hangzhou is famous. I saw giant snails, fried sea creatures on a stick (with their shells still attached below the tempura-like crust), chicken feet, pigs' feet, unidentifiable feet, duck heads complete with bills, skewered giant silkworm pupae, scary stews and porridges, and some more appealing treats (to my tastes, anyway) like black sesame candy, naan-like bread stuffed with pineapple, rou chuan(r)--the Chinese take on shish kebab--and pancakes with noodles and vegetables inside, etc. I tried Beef Vermicelli noodle soup and steamed buns with Crab Meat, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Hangzhou. The best two restaurants for the above food are Zhiweiguan and Louwailou, respectively, however, the two restaurants are always fully filled and vacancy at weekends can be extremely hard. The duck-blood soup is also said great but pity I could had no more.?
In the region southeast of china, villages are surrounded by rivers and one of which is Wuzhen. Wuzhen is a famous small water village, over 200 km from Hangzhou. There are local buses to Wuzhen from Hangzhou and the journey takes less than 2 hours. As I got off the car, I was immediately hawked by a flock of street vendors who wanted to sell me their stuffs. I just said ?°no?± and stepped forward. I booked my hotel through Chinahighlights Travel, which proved a wise decision for a comfortable accommodation was not easy to come by in this tiny town.
There weren?ˉt many tourists here at this time of the year so I had a great time wandering through the centuries old alleys. On both sides of the streets stand pubs, restaurants, pawnshops, weaving and dyeing establishments, and other businesses, all housed in wooden structures of brown. Rivers and creeks spanned with stone bridges in various designs flow through the town. Old waterside houses and outside corridors scatter.
Wuzhen is home to many famous literators. The well-known Chinese revolutionary writer Maodun was born here. The Form Residence of Mao Dun now is open to public. It is the renovation of the Mao family home for generations.
The town is still a living area, where daily life goes on as it has for the last thousand or so years. Coppersmiths, wood-caver and silk-spinners work at their age-old crafts. Bicycle rickshaw drivers exchange stories as they wait for passengers. People cart water, cook meals and tend their gardens. We saw huddles of locals gathering in a square happily playing chess, old grannies pushing cabbages in rickety wooden carts. They seem contented and most of all they seem to enjoy observing the passing parade, which provides a constant source of amusement.
Wuzhen is said to be a good place to well treat your mouth. The mutton noodle here is very famous so I tried. But I was a little disappointed with the food on my table. The pungent mutton smell really made me unpleasant.
caI have been to Shanghai for several times and each time I found something new. The great metropolis leaps at an unbelievable pace. This time I visited an Old Catholic church, the oldest in Shanghai. Located amidst skyscrapers, the aged architecture is quite unique. The church was said to be built in 1853 by a foreigner in China in the early Spanish Baroque style, featuring eight Spanish pillars and a composition of four arched clay roofs. Chinese couplets written on both the inner and outer walls are very noticeable.
The most impressive experience was riding the magnetic levitation train, the first kind to appear in China. The train is suspended in the air above a single track, and propelled using the repulsive and attractive forces of magnetism. The train can travel as fast as 430 km/h and take you from downtown shanghai to the Pudong International Airport in just 7 minutes or so.
That's my traveling story. The journey was amazing and I visited some 'key'attractions and some of the most famous places in China, enough to make me want to come back for more.? I covered variety of culture, landscapes in a short time, experiencing local food, tradition.