Hangzhou was once the capital of China's Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and has preserved some of the splendor of this time in historic districts and streets such as Qing He Fang Street, which served as the center of the Song Dynasty's political, cultural, and commercial activities and has been almost completely preserved. Today, its century-old storefronts sell everything from tea, medicine, food and drink to arts and crafts.The entrance to Qing HeFang Street is off busy commercial Zhongshan Road, leading south from Wulin Square.
Shops are selling products manufactured in the area: folded-paper painted fans, umbrellas, silks, and teas.
A few blocks later, I am reminded that I am in the middle of a serious city as I quickly emerge back in the 21st century.
I continue on my way back toward Wulin Square, and along the Grand Canal (this portion of the canal was built in 1247 by order of Emperor Chunyou).