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China

Hanghzhou, paradise by the water

It's a good place to live. Its mild climate and luxuriant vegetation make it one of the nicest Chinese cities in which to stay for your vacation.

It is the capital of Zhejiang province, on the Chinese Sea, and has lots of heritage. With temples and cultural relics, Hangzhou is one of the oldest tourist cities. It's always been a trendy place, somewhere where it was fashionable to spend some time, short or long. It is even nicknamed "paradise on earth".

An elegant heritage site

Marco Polo noticed it in the 13th century. He even stayed there. Then, the Chinese poets Bai Juyi and Su Dongpo... During my visits I have enjoyed finding traces of famous names in this much loved resort, which was also a capital during the Song dynasty of the 12th and 13th centuries, a very elegant era. At that time it had a flourishing silk industry. The big river port was useful for dispatching merchandise.

If you are looking for an intellectual retreat, you will like Hangzhou. I recommend you visit "Lingyin" or the Temple of the Soul's Retreat, which was founded in the 4th century by a Buddhist monk who came from India. It has been destroyed and rebuilt 16 times and is one of the town's major sanctuaries. Inside, you should see the 32 m high wooden Buddha, which is really surprising and quite well proportioned.

Lake Pavilion, Hangzhou

"La dolce vita" Chinese style....

The islands and river banks are nicely developed with palaces, pagodas... Everything is designed to relax you and encourage spirituality. I like to spend time walking on the pathways and looking at the water. I often try the different teas with their astonishingly subtle tastes, and, of course, I take some home with me. The food is very delicate, just filling enough to make me want to walk a little further. Then you should go to Qing He Fang Street, one of the most famous traditional streets, to admire its buildings and buy a silk scarf.

In winter, I prefer visiting Digue Bai, a cast iron bridge to the east of Hangzhou. When it emerges from its snowy coat the white reflections of the first rays of the sun make the sunny half seem to disappear. Which makes the bridge look broken. Those who love subtle views will be delighted...

Emilie Joulia
24 contributions
Updated 5 June 2015
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