Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shanghai River Cruise and Hangzhou, China

Shanghai would not be complete without a night time river cruise.  The glittering skyscrapers display a  spectacular display of lights.  My eyes never rested.  Huangpu River, a branch of the lower Yangtze River, has an outstanding display of architecture flanking its banks.  The famous Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which is the tallest TV tower in Asia and the third highest in the world, is breathtaking.  The two suspension bridges on each side of the tower appear to arch over the tower and if you let you mind play, you will think you are seeing two dragons playing with a ball.

From Shanghai we took a day trip by train to Hangzhou.  The train ride in itself was an adventure.   The speed of the train was about 200 MPH and I do not believe that the train ever touched the tracks.  The seats were oh so comfy and stretched out like a recliner.  All too soon, the train pulled into the station.  Hangzhou, known for its scenery, is home to the famous West Lake, located in the western area of Hangzhou city.  West Lake is not only famous for its landscape, but it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes, and martyrs.  It is the epitome of Chinese culture.   In this scenic area, one can see the Six Harmonies Pagoda as well as the tomb of the famous General Yue Fei, who is considered a national hero.  The Temple of the Soul’s Retreat lies to the northwest and is noted as one of the most famous Buddhist Temples of China.  The temple can be traced back to 317 – 420 AD when according to legend, an Indian monk came to the area where he was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery. 

Tom and I could not resist a boat ride on the lake.  The lake is so tranquil and we could see a silhouette of the city high rises on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround the lake on three other sides.  Visitors can bike around the lake, walk or, as we did, take a short boat ride.  And, the three stone pagodas, acting like beacons and built over 800 years ago, are the centerpiece of the scenic spot called “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”.    You can see the pagodas in the pictures as well at the building that holds the Legend of Lady or Madame White Snake.  The basic legend is that of a young scholar who falls in love with a beautiful woman, unaware that she is a thousand-year old white snake that has taken on human form.  A monk supposedly intervenes and cast the white snake into a deep well at Leifeng Pagoda.  Our friend Wing told us the story and I cannot match his story telling so I have just given a short version.

Next, we will travel to Hainan Island and Chengdu

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