Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hangzhou: Baoshi Hill and Yingzhou Islet

Recently, I had a day off from work and a three day weekend for "Tomb Sweeping Day," which is something roughly equivalent to Memorial Day, a day to remember ancestors. Since the big nationwide holidays in China lead to all the tourist sites being extremely crowded with inflated prices, I decided to stay in Hangzhou and see some things I hadn't seen before. Actually, some of the places are major tourist sites in Hangzhou, but I had just been putting them off for one reason or another.

During this weekend, I should mention that I cracked open some Stagg Chili I smuggled in from the US and mixed in the usual cheese, chipotle flavored Tobasco, and salsa. While I did have to eat the Chili from a Chinese bowl and use a cutesy Chinese-style spoon, I felt for a short moment that I was back in Chicago devouring some microwaved Chili as a usual quick and unhealthy dinner.

One of the days I hiked along the Baoshi Hill, which is very near the area where my new apartment is located. It's not a very steep or demanding hike, but hiking from one end to the other is pretty enjoyable and you can see several different interesting things along the way. There were old-style Chinese houses, Buddhist temples, and several gardens dotted along the path.

Old-Style Chinese Housing

Old-Style Lane

Baoshi Hill Path

Temple Tucked into Rocky Cave

One interesting thing was that there were a lot of people singing, playing instruments, and dancing in some of the larger public areas. I'm not sure if it was because of the weekend or the holiday or if they're always there. Most of the people were a bit older, so it was definitely a good time to sit back and watch them perform some of the classical Chinese singing and dancing.

Singing with Accompaniment

Group Singing in Large Public Square

Some Dancing with Twirling Handkerchiefs

Along the Baoshi Hill path, there's a garden area called Yellow Dragon Cave that doesn't really contain a cave at all. Lots of places in China seem to have the name cave in them, but will not contain anything that I would consider to be a cave. It had some interesting sites, but nothing really too spectacular. Since I'm usually more interesting in taking pictures of weird things, I liked the guy riding around in a duck boat cleaning garbage the most.

The Yellow Dragon

Man Cleaning Garbage in Duck Boat

Contains 4 Babies (Horizontal and Vertical) and Provides Good Luck if You Rub Their Butts

The main reason to hike along Baoshi Hill is to see the 1000 year old Baochu Pagoda. It's not too high up, but provides great views of the city and West Lake.

Gu Hill (In Front) and Islets of West Lake

Wes with Baochu Pagoda, Hangzhou City, and West Lake

Baochu Pagoda and Downtown Hangzhou

Broken Bridge and West Lake

Baochu Pagoda

Later on during my holiday weekend, I decided to take one of the "Pleasure Boats" to the Yangzhou Islet in West Lake. I have never done it before because it's kind of pricey, but I figured for my vacation at home weekend I could afford it. Despite my initial fear about what type of services the "Pleasure Boat" would provide, I decided to try it. 

Cruising on West Lake

Row of "Pleasure Boats"

After arriving on the island and walking around for awhile, it became apparent that the whole place is super touristy. Nevertheless, it provides great views of a lot of the sites around West Lake.

Pavilion on Yingzhou Islet

Chenhuang Pavilion at a Distance

Leifeng Pagoda

While there were a few foreign "laowai's" like myself there, the majority of tourists were of course Chinese. Normally, the local Hangzhou people aren't too taken back by seeing foreigners, but some of the tourists there were pretty interested and I had several requests to have my picture taken with them.

The Best Way to Eat an Apple is While Squatting

The main draw of the island is to catch a glimpse of the "Three Pools Mirroring the Moon" site. There are these three pagoda spires in the lake that have candles lit inside when there's a full moon, supposedly producing a pretty dramatic effect. However, most people just go during the day and snap a photo like myself, removing some of the mystique.

All Three Pagodas in the Water

Pagoda with Lake Traffic

Pagoda Spire with Bridge

Staying in Hangzhou for the weekend was a nice break from the usual holiday travel rush in China. I didn't have to cram into any buses or trains, deal with too many huge crowds of people, or worry about a place to sleep. While there was nothing new about the views I saw, it's always a good to get to know the city you live in a bit more.


Phil Dawsey said...

Gotta love the squatting!