CHINA – Hangzhou (2014.07.07 – 2014.07.30 China Tour)

China - Hangzhou - Westlake
China - Hangzhou - Westlake

Summary: Part of a 24 day China tour. Start in Hangzhou, followed by Shanghai and Suzhou. From there to Tunxi (Huangshan) by plane continued by train to Wuyishan. From here by plane to Xiamen with a three day trip to the Tulou Clusters and back to Xiamen. Everywhere spend around 2-4 days to see all UNESCO Sights and all other most important sights.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited: The Grand Canal (at Hangzhou),  West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou (see all UNESCO sites here)

Day 1 & 2 – Arrival and tea fields & Hu Xueyan Villa

A KLM flight from Amsterdam overnight to Hangzhou – nicely on award miles tickets in business class!

We arrived the 2nd day around 9 AM to our hotel where the rooms where already ready. After freshening up and a quick power nap we took a taxi to the Longjing tea fields to the west.

We had a short stop on the way at one of the best preserved villa’s in Hangzhou, the villa of Hu Xueyan. Hu Xueyan was the founder of Huqing Yutang Traditional Medicine Store which was one of the best in the country. The villa has been very nicely designed with an area for reception and consultations, area for relaxation and an area for living. Great gardens, towers and water flows making it all a great harmonious whole. Mr. Hu Xueyan lived here with his many concubines.

The tea from this area has a long history and is amongst the most famous in China. It was granted Imperial Tea in the Qing Dynasty by Emperor Kangxi which visited the west lake many times during holidays, and was impressed by the tea he drank at the Lion Peak Mountain temple. Various legends go around that the tea “told” the emperor to go back to Beijing because of his sick mother. The tea also called dragon well tea because of the well on top of the mountain in which the water moved like a dragons tail. A kilo of tea can go as high as 1000 euro right after the first harvest early spring. We ended the day with a great cup of tea!

Day 3 – Westlake south west

Today we started the day to see the Westlake scenic area Hangzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s huge! We planned two days for it and this seemed to be a good choice. We started our day at the Leifeng pagoda on Sunset Hill which originally is from the 10th century but after a collapse (after burning by Japanese) it was rebuild in 2002. In the basement the remains of the old pagoda can still be seen. The pagoda is five stories tall and has eight sides. As it’s rebuild in 2002 it has an elevator inside to take you to the top minus one floor; the last to be reached by staircase. In the basement one can see also the artifacts seen from the underground chamber discovered in 2001.

From the Leifeng pagoda one can cross the street to the Jingci Temple. This is the second Buddhist temple around Westlake and located on the foot of Nanping Hill. It’s famous of one of the 10 most famous Westlake scenes: evening bell ringing at the Nanping hill. First erected in the 10th century and destroyed and rebuild several times the now existing temple is from the 1980’s.  It has a 100 kilograms weighting copper bell.

We not had a walk along the Westlake. First Jiangs villa, from there over the Su causeway. Over the lotus in the breeze and ending at the north east. A great walk and a great view with ponds, flowers, parks and nice views over the lake.

At the end of the Su causeway you end up at the Yue Fei Tomb and Temple. A temple dedicated to the Southern Song Dynasty military general who fought against the Jin Dynasty. The site is dedicated to him with a temple, his mausoleum and sculptures.

From the Yue Fei Temple a short taxi ride of 5 minutes to the Lingyin Temple, also known as the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat. Its located north west of the Westlake and one of the most rich Buddhist temples in China consisting of pagoda’s, temples and grottoes. During the East Jin Dynasty the temple was founded (4th century) at this location, in the Wulling Mountains. Outside the temple are the Feilai Feng grottoes with numerous Buddhist carvings and statues. The back of the grand hall has a very nice relief screen about a manifestation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara; very nice carvings. The mountain region has several other minor temples which we personally did not visit as it’s impossible to do that and we make priorities.

Day 4 – West lake north

Today we started at the north of the Westlade at the Baochu Pagoda. This pagoda is located at the top of Precious Stone Hill. Legend goes it was constructed for protection of Qian Chu who was summoned to central China by the then ruling emperor and did not return yet. The current pagoda from 1933 is 7 stories high, the original has 9 stories. From the pagoda it’s short walk over the mountain to the Baopu Taoist temple. On the way climb on the rocks to see a great view of Westlake, it’s worth it. It’s a nice small Taoist temple with a long history back.

From the hill we walked down back to the lake. We walked the one natural island with it sights and temples and took the boat to the island called Three Ponds Island. A great romantic spot. From there we took the boat back and walked the Su Causeway to the mainland back just taking in the beautiful views although it was a bit “smoggy”  in summer. The end of two great days exploring Westlake Hangzhou.

Day 5 – Grand Canal, Six Harmony Pagoda, departure

Two major sights left in Hangzhou. The Grand Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Six Harmony Pagoda. The Grand Canal is the longest and oldest canal in the world running from Beijing to Hangzhou spanning over 1000 miles in length. The oldest parts date back to the 5th century BC but it was finally all connected in the 6th and 7th century AD in the Sui Dynasty. First we went to the Grand Canal Museum. From there we walked the Gongchen Bridge to the other side. We saw the Fan Museum, Umbrella Museum, Scissors Museum and Handicraft Workshop. These Museums are housed in the former Cotton Mill Site. We saw the historic block and a great walk and see the canal still being used today.

The last sight to see in Hangzhou the Six Harmony Pagoda, or also called the Liuhe Pagoda. Constructed in the 10th century and rebuild and extensions added several times. It looks like a thirteen story high pagoda but has actually only seven stories inside. It was build to control the tidal of the Qiantang River. It also served as lighthouse. Close by one can find the white pagoda, a small pagoda. After the visit we checked out the hotel and went with the train to Shanghai; next stop in this China tour.

Day 6 trough 24 – Shanghai, Suzhou, Huangshan, Wuyishan, Xiamen, Tulou

See here:
CHINA – Shanghai (2014.07.07 – 2014.07.30 China Tour) 
CHINA – Suzhou & Tongli (2014.07.07 – 2014.07.30 China Tour)
CHINA – Huangshan Tunxi (2014.07.07 – 2014.07.30 China Tour)
CHINA – Wuyishan (2014.07.07 – 2014.07.30 China Tour)
CHINA – Xiamen & Tulou (2014.07.07 – 2014.07.30 China Tour)