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上有天堂,下有苏杭 – “In heaven there is paradise, on earth Suzhou and Hangzhou.” It is a famous Chinese proverb. Hangzhou is well-known for its enchanting natural scenery, with Xi Hu (西湖), literally “West Lake” as the most noteworthy location.

The West Lake is said to be the incarnation of Xi Shi (西施), the one of the renowned four beauties of ancient China. “沉魚落雁, 閉月羞花” is used to compliment Xi Shi’s extreme beauty, literally means while leaning over a balcony to look at the fish in the lake, the fish would be so mesmerized that they forgot to swim and sunk; birds would forget to fly and fall; the moon would fade and flowers would close their petals in shame! So you can see how Xi Hu was associated with a large number of romantic poets, philosophers and national heroes in ancient time. One of the famous heroes, a patriot called Yue Fei (岳飞), was buried nearby and we visited the Mausoleum later on.

Xi Hu is surrounded by plenty of weeping willows swaying in the breeze. It was drizzling and we were cruising on the boat. If the rain was too big with thunder storm, we might not be able to get on the boat for the cruise.

The Thunder Pagoda has a legend about Lady White, a white snake who had magical power and fell in love with a man. She was trapped under the Thunder Pagoda by a monk later on… The Story is so popular that it is performed in Chinese operas, movies, comics, novels, cartoon and even PC games!

There are many Chinese folks practising “Tai Ji” (太極) and other forms of exercise at the West Lake garden. We were lucky to catch the annual spectacular firework display at the West Lake too! It was free as we didn’t enter the compound to watch; but it was clear enough for us to enjoy the fireworks, though it was drizzling and packed with people.

Next: the Mausoleum of General Yue Fei!