The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

West Lake (Xi Hu)

Mausoleum Of General Yue Fei -- Commander Of The Song Armies During...

Statue of General Yue Fei

Parents Pose With Statues

Gu Hill (Gu Shan) Island In West Lake (Xi Hu)

Baidi Causeway With City Of Hangzhou In The Background

SUNDAY, JULY 9, 2006. HANGZHOU, CHINA. Due to Typhoon Ewiniar in the East China Sea, my parents and I decided against going to Putuashan Island as we originally planned (I may still go later after we return to Shanghai). Instead, we decided to spend another day in Hangzhou exploring West Lake and then travel tomorrow to Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai famous for its classical gardens, canals, and silk.

During the Southern Song Dynasty (A.D. 1127-1279), Hangzhou served as China's capital. Around that time, Marco Polo described Hangzhou as "the finest, most splendid city in the world . . . where so many pleasures may be found that one fancies oneself to be in Paradise." Today the city is unremarkable, but Hangzhou's West Lake (Xi Hu) offers a glimpse into China's past that so impressed Marco Polo. With its pagodas, bridges, islets, causeways, gardens, teahouses, cafes and shaded tree lined walkways, it's easy to understand why Hangzhou's West Lake is one of China's most famous and, therefore, busiest tourist sites. The lake is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) across and about 14 kilometers (9 miles) around. Despite the heat and humidity, July is peak summer travel season bringing hordes of mostly Chinese tourists, all wanting to see for themselves what Marco Polo described. We brushed off our elbows and joined them in the fray.

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