Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hanghou, China: Arriving and Finding My Way Around

My friends in Shanghai tell me that Hangzhou is the most beautiful city in China.  I haven't been to enough Chinese cities to know this for sure, but, if not the most beautiful, it's one of the top contenders.  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.

West Lake

I'll explore the delights of West Lake, but first arrive in Hangzhou and get my bearings, walking through Wulin Square in the center of town and taking in at 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.

Zhejiang Exhibition Hall

 Buildings surrounding Wulin Square

 Nearby gardens

 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.

 Grand canal and small canals through the city

And, everywhere there are small parks along the streets and on the canals.  People are out and about, just enjoying the day in the park.

 Small parks throughout the city

 Another predominant feature is the space set aside for bicycles and the large bicycle sharing program (like most Chinese cities).

 Bicycles everywhere

Whimsical bicycle locking stands

Hangzhou is a bicycle-friendly town and features covered stops at street corners so that the bicyclists can get out of the elements while waiting for the light to change.

Bike lane with covered stopping area

I'm starting to get a good feeling for this city and look forward to exploring everything this city has to offer.

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