In western world the story of national heroes like George Washington, William Wallace and Joan of Arc are well known by everyone. In China, a national hero, who was regarded the top hero of China for almost 800 years, was buried in the lakeside of West Lake. His name was Yue Fei, who led the Chinese army to defeat the foreign enemies and saved the nation in the 12th century. However, just like William Wallace of Scotland, he was framed up and killed at the end. In the place where he was buried, a temple was built on memory of him. For almost eight hundred years, dynasties had been changed many times, but his temple and tomb was still there and protected by the citizens.
image from: 1616u.com
In Song Dynasty when Hangzhou was the capital of China, orthodox empire of China (Song Empire) was almost conquered by a foreign empire called Jin. The Chinese emperor at that time was so down and out that he even floated on the sea for several month and not dare to come back to the land, because he was afraid of being caught by the enemies.
image from: cultural-china.com
After several month of exile, the government of Song Empire set the new capital in Hangzhou city and named Yue Fei as a general. He was an extreme patriot, who had tattoo in the back with four Chinese words “Jin Zhong Bao Guo” by his mother, which means “serve the country with the utmost loyalty”. His army was the most powerful and disciplinary army of China at that time. His army was deeply admired by the citizens and feared by the enemies. His troops were so disciplinary that no soldiers was allowed to enter citizens’ house and anyone stole or robbed would be executed; even when there was lack of supply or the army got stuck in cold weather, the disciplines were not changed.
The enemy never feared Chinese troops but only fear Yue Fei’s troops and they said “it’s easy to move a mountain but hard to defeat Yue Fei’s troops” Yue Fei helped the exiled government of Song Empire retake lost lands in the north and expelled the Jin enemy to northern China.
However, this was the start of the tragedy of Yue Fei. He raised a plan to start the Northern Crusade and thoroughly expel Jin Empire; however it was resisted by the emperor and prime minister. This is because the old emperor, who was the father of current emperor, was jailed by Jin enemy. This means if Jin enemy was defeated, the old emperor would come back to China and the current emperor would lose his power.
However, Yue Fei kept heading to the north with his troops. During his successful Northern Crusade, in only a few days he received 12 gold plaques s sent by the emperor to recall him back to capital. When he returned to the capital he was jailed and executed with false charges, which was arranged by the Prime Minister Qin Hui and his colleges.
images from: tiexue.net
Today, in Yue Fei’s Temple, there stood five kneeling iron statues of Prime Minister Qin Hui, Qin’s wife, and other three persons who framed up and killed Yue Fei. They kept kneeling for centuries and will still kneel in the future. Inside the temple, the four Chinese characters “Huan Wo He Shan” written by Yue Fei, which means “return my rivers and mountains”, was still carefully protected and kept in the top of his big statue. This words was used in the propaganda poster in the World War II by Chinese government to call people to defense Japanese enemy.
The Thousand-island Lake (different from the Thousand Island Lake in North America)
Hangzhou is famous for the West Lake in the city which not only has beautiful sceneries but also cultural heritages with long history. However, do you know another much larger lake located about 180 kilometers in the southwest of Hangzhou city? It is called Thousand island Lake which has 1078 islands.
The Thousand-island Lake is in Chun’an county, Hangzhou. Actually, it is not a natural lake, the lake is formed by a dam built in the 1950s which led to the high water level in this areas. The old city of Chun’an county was then buried in the deep water and all the people in the lake areas immigrated to other counties. One of my best friends’ grandparents was migrated to my hometown from the old city buried under the Thousand-island Lake.
On the contrary to West Lake which is famous for its cultural sceneries and the natural beauties around the lakes, the Thousand-island Lake is famous for its large beautiful and clean water area with over one thousand islands in different sizes. Each island has its own special characteristics. The biggest island is larger than a town and the smallest islands could be smaller than a parking plot.
The water in the lake is quite clean. One of the most popular pure water brand Nongfu Spring Water comes from the lake. Also the Cheerday Beer with great reputation in South China is produced in the factory inside the lake areas. Both of them advertise the products with these words: “the product is made up from spring water of Thousand-island Lake”. It could be seen how confident the manufacturers and consumers are about the quality of water in the lake.
To maintain the water from pollution, the local government launched a plan in the beginning of 2012 with annual costs about 80 million US dollars, 60 percent of which is donated by the Beijing central government. This reflected how local and central government treasured the lake.
There are so many islands in the lake that you are not able to visit them all. Even for me, a young man who always visit the Thousand-island Lake, have only visited some of the islands that has been well exploited.
The tourists from other cities or provinces always follow the local tour guides, going to the major islands on the tour lists such as Snack Island, Deer Island, Monkey Island and Ostrich Island. The islands are attractive to tourists, and the animals on the islands are very interesting. It is just like a big animal kingdom but each kind of animals is kept on different islands. The whole tour to all the animal islands could be over three hours, and much of time is spent on the boats.
images from: 1000d.cn
I grow up in a south province of China where everyone favors dish of fish and I have tasted different kinds of fish in my life time. However, when I first came to Thousand-island Lakes several years ago, the fish that local people served in dinner time is so wonderful that I could never forget. That is why I have been to the lake so many times, sometimes just for tasting the fish with my friends.
The fish dish that local people makes only have two main characters: spicy and delicious. Walking on the street of Thousand-island Lake city, the center city of the county, you can enter every small restaurants and the fish dish it serves will never disappoint you.
Another reason the fish dish of the lake is so delicious is that the quality of fish is very high. The fish is living in the clean water and have enough nutrition they need and they are not cultivated in a small pool which limit their activity.
Once upon a time, a friend of my parents in Thousand-island Lake gave us some good species of fish which tastes very good. However, when we drive home, the fish have already died inside the water tank in car! My dad said: “What a pity is that! But even if they survived, they could not survive for a long time. Because the quality of water from the water pipe could not compete with the one of Thousand-island Lake, they won’t live long in such kind of water.”
Come to see the islands and have a great fish meal! They are waiting for you in the Thousand-island Lake!
Hangzhou food is one of the most fashionable cuisines in South China and is one of the eight famous Chinese cuisines. Hangzhou cuisine is well-known for its refreshing taste, elaborating preparation and sophisticated cooking and is appealing to the eye. Also it emphasizes on nutrition and the great poet Su Dongpo in Sung Dynasty had praised Hangzhou food as “the best food under heaven that no other could compare with it”.
There are some famous dishes like “Dongpo’s Pork” and “West Lake Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce”, which are the representative dishes. Here are some of the dishes I picked out which arefavored by many young people.
The way of cooking was invented by Su Dongpo when he served the governor of Hangzhou in Sung Dynasty. It is in bright red color and delicate in taste. It is soft and served in thick soup but is not smashed.
Video Link to Dongpo’s Pork
This famous dish is developed in Sung Dynasty. Ingredients are chosen and prepared for the dish and when the dish comes out, it is in yellow color and tender tastes. Just like tasting crab broth and then it is also called “Surssine Crab Broth”.
This dish requires a live grass carp from the West Lake and after starved for two days the grass carp are highly nutritional for cooking. Sugar and vinegar sauce is poured over the fish after boiling for three minutes. When cooking finished it tasts fresh, sweet and sour and also it has a taste of crab and is tender.
It is wrapped up in lotus leaves with special materials and layer mud. After roasted on small fire and mud layer cracked, the dish finished and it could be very delicious when opened up. It has nice aroma and white meat with tender taste.
Video Link to Beggars Chicken
This is the most famous snack street in Hangzhou and it is Located at the food of Wushan Mountain, which is the old district of the city. In this snack street you can find a bunch of snacks and special food, most of them are very delicious and have attractive aroma. Top snacks are Scholar’s Cake, black Sesame Paste, Eight-treasure Porridge and Lotus Root Starch. Every kind of food here is very cheap and most of them are under 10 Yuan (about 1.5 US dollar). Many young people like to taste as many kinds of snacks as possible from the head to the end of the street, thus they are satisfied and could fully fill their hungry stomach with food.
Here is a video of Hefang Snack Street:
Many restaurants gather around this area where cuisines from all parts of China, from the North to the South and from the East to the West of China, every species could be tasted here. All the restaurants are built on both sides of the Great Canal and the buildings are in ancient Chinese architectural style. This is a new food street where many local citizens like to have dinner with friends or relatives. It is very beautiful in the evening when many people stroll around the river and do exercises and you can feel the peace of the city there.
Address: 30 Gushan Road
Feature: Hangzhou dishes, Beggar’s Chicken and Shelled Shrimps with Dragon Well Green Tea
Flavor Savoring Tower
Address: 83 Renhe Road
Feature: Hangzhou dishes, Crab Brewed in Orange Juice, Codfish in Chicken Sauce and Wulin Boiled Duck
Address: 447 Yan’an Road
Feature: Hangzhou dishes, Fragrant Mandarin Fish, Dongpo Pork, Fragrant and Soft Duck
Huiqingyutang Dietotherapy Restaurant
Address: 95 Dajing Lane
Address: 85 Qinghefang History Street
Feature: Wu Hill Duck Tongue, Ning Style Eel Thread
Address: 71 Zhongshan Road
Feature: Hangzhou dishes, Fish-head with Bean Curd, Rotus Roots and Salty Meat
If you want to taste other foreign dishes, there are some options for you: Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican etc. You could find many foreign restaurants in Hangzhou with good service and tastes.
Bring you friends and start tasting the fantastic cuisine. Enjoy you meals around West Lake!
Beauties around West Lake
Hangzhou is famous for West Lake and the beauties around it. The West Lake is so beautiful that it has 10 most famous scenic spots hundreds of years ago and new 10 scenic spots later. Here in this article I will introduce some of the most beautiful and enjoyable scenic spots around West Lake in my view.
In the West Lake, there is a small islet called Mid-lake Pavilion islet, which was set up over 1000 years ago by a famous local governor and the lake was built with the silt that dig out from the bottom of lake when the lake was dredged. The pavilion on the islet is called “Mid-Lake Pavilion”. In the Pavilion, there is a Chinese inscription “Chong Er” or ”Endless Love” on stone written by an Emperor of Qing Dynasty.
The most attractive beauty spot on the islet is Three Pools Mirroring the Moon. The three stone miniature pagodas with 2-meter height standing in the lake off the islet. Every night of Mid-Autumn Festival, lanterns would be put inside windows and the shines of light and water near pagoda reflects the shiny lights and the moon. Moon lovers come rowing boats, the water moves and a wavering scene with three elements, moon and the pagodas and the water, occurred. The most enjoyable and beautiful moment could never be better than that and visitors who see that would feel they are in the paradise or dreams.
Octagonal Diagram Field
China has been a country that emphasis the importance of agriculture for a long time, especially in ancient times.
The Octagonal Diagram Field Relic Park is set by the royal family in the Southern Sung dynasty about one thousand years ago. The Octagonal Diagram Field is built for the emperors to pray for the future great harvest because the octagonal diagram in China means lucky and fortune. Different parts of Octagonal Diagram Field has various kinds of crops such as soybean, rice, corn and eggplant. Also around the field, there is an old temple and a nunnery and those scene together will give tourists a feeling of peace and solemn religion. This is an ideal place for leaning the Chinese agricultural history and environment issues
Maojiabu is an area in the west of West Lake and the most attractive scenery is the natural beauty which haven’t been changed a lot by humans. It is the typical natural waterside village of southern China.
Compare to the crowded West Lake, Mao Jia Bu relatively is a rare quiet land. there are large areas of the lake and wetlands, lush vegetation and the green grassy slopes; winding path, unique shape of the wooden bridge; reeds and flowers; huts, tea room; lake there are wild ducks, as well as boat waves inside the water.
You could either walk around the natural woods or just sitting in a chair and having a cup of tea in the sunshine. It is a good place for leisure and everything could be forgotten in Maojiabu.
Welcome to Hangzhou
Hangzhou is the capital city of Zhejiang Province in Southeast China and has a population of 6.6 million. The weather is mild in Hangzhou, the average temperature is 39 ℉ in winter and 61 ℉ in summer.
Also it is close to Shanghai, the largest city and economic center in China and the distance between them is only 200 km. It takes less than 2 hours in highway and less than 50 minutes in high-speed railway to reach Shanghai.
This city attracts over 20 million tourists from all around the world every year and West Lake is world-famous for its natural beauty. In Yuan dynasty, a famous Italian traveler called Marco Polo praised the city as the most splendid city in the world. There is a saying in China that “Above is paradise and below is Suzhou and Hangzhou” and Hangzhou is always called “the paradise on earth”.
The Economy of Hangzhou is developing very fast and ranking within the top ten big-middle cities in China. Also it is the safest tourist-city and one of the safest internal cities in China.
History and culture
The city has civilization for more than 4000 years and is one of the six ancient capitals. The most glorious period is in Southern Sung dynasty from 1132 to 1276 while it was the capital of China at that time. In that period of time, the city was very rich due to the prosperous silk trade with foreign nations and was center of art, literature, education in China. The population of the city at that time was already over one million.
The city was favored by many emperors after Southern Sung dynasty, in the 17th century Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty visited Hangzhou five times and wrote down calligraphy Ten Scenes of West Lake which made West Lake famous. Later his grandson Emperor Qianlong visited Hangzhou six times and left many famous poems and calligraphy works there to express his deep love of the city.
The Great Canal, one the four ancient greatest construction projects in the world, links Hangzhou to Beijing. It is the earliest and longest man-made canal in the world and it still in use today. The Great Canal with history of over 2400 years has become significant part of the city. Dozens of bridges built cross the canal which are beauty spots.
The most famous beauty spots are West Lake and Ten Scenes of West Lake around. Not only because of the natural beauty scenery but also the cultural heritage that ancient predecessors left for us. For many centuries the Ten Scenes of West Lake are becoming more attractive and shining.
Welcome to the “paradise” city, the one that you will never forget!