After the water village of Xitang that I described last time, our next stop was to Hangzhou, an hour's drive away. The city was founded 2,200 years ago, is called "Heaven on Earth", and was also praised by Marco Polo. Hangzhou has the famous West Lake and Dragon Well ('long jing') green tea, and was the Imperial Capital for the southern Song dynasty (1123-1276).
It was a cultural centre and very prosperous, even today it has one of the highest per capita GDPs in China (USD 11,000). We could see all the famous top brand cars had showrooms in the city.
And how do you like the latest in bedroom furniture for the nouveau riche?
There is still some work to be done on improving English. I couldn't understand this sign in a bookstore, can you.....?
you have to look on the other side of the sign! (i.e. first sign should have read "Our Choice"!)
After Hangzhou, we went to Huangshan, a 3-hr coach ride away. It's a double World heritage site (cultural and natural).
Nearby villages of Hongcun and Xidi are worth seeing. They are like Chinese paintings, and one famous Chinese film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" directed by Ang Lee was partly filmed here. For fengshui reasons, Hongcun was designed in the shape of a cow, so it's fun to try to identify in the village different parts such as the horns, stomach, legs etc.
I also took my clients to Datong to see the Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery, before finally returning to Beijing.
I was so glad to get home, I think the T-shirt says it all, I just love BJ. Don't you?
Well that's all for this trip, perhaps we can get back to the Ancient Silk Road next time!