Our travels are still a bit slower than several years ago and we'll take this opportunity (while we travel a bit and find some new experiences to share) to continue our revisiting of favorite spots in the past.
My friends in Shanghai tell me that Hangzhou is the most beautiful city in China and I truly enjoy my stay. Hangzhou, about 175 km (100 miles) southwest of Shanghai, is the capital of Zhejiang Province and is the southernmost point of the grand canal that extends 1776 km (1100 miles) to Beijing. One of the most beautiful features of the city is West Lake, about 6.5 square kilometers (2.5 square miles) of shallow water surrounded by temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees. The gardens around the lake are said to have influenced landscape design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea.
We'll soon explore the delights of West Lake, but first let's walk through Wulin Square in the center of town and taking in the sites. In the center of the square is the Zhejiang Exhibition Hall, an impressive building surrounded by gardens and sculptures, a beautiful and calming mixture.
A short ways from the square is the grand canal connecting Hongzhou to Beijing and smaller canals weaving through the city, great places to walk and relax.
Another predominant feature is the space set aside for bicycles and the large bicycle sharing program (like most Chinese cities).
Hangzhou is a bicycle-friendly town and features covered stops at street corners so that the bicyclists can get out of the rain while waiting for the light to change.
I'm starting to get a good feeling for this city and look forward to exploring everything this city has to offer.