Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Food and Dining in Hangzhou

Fresh food is available for sale everywhere in Hangzhou and I admire much of it as I walk by on all my adventures in the city.

Fresh fruit shops

Butcher shop

 Duck shop (all parts available at the counter)

Roasted yams

I eat simply in Hangzhou, a breakfast of steamed buns, steamed vegetables, and congee (Chinese rice porridge, often mixed with chicken, beef, or fish and garnished with scallions, chilies, shallots, and other goodies).

Breakfast of steams buns/vegetables, congee

For lunch, often a sandwich from the local convenience store (at 5.8RMB, the sandwich costs me $0.90 USD).

Sandwich for lunch

And, for dinner, something simple with or without rice, for example, rotisserie duck, served the same way that lamb is served on a rotisserie in Europe.  What a great deal at 7 RMB for a sandwich ($1.11 USD).

Rotisserie duck

And, of course, the local steamed bun shops.

Steamed bun shops

The food is simple, straightforward, delicious, and inexpensive.  What more could one want?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hangzhou: Qing He Fang Street and Southern Song Dynasty Charm

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.

 Heading south from the Zhejiang Exhibition Hall in Wulin Square

Whimsical art on Zhongshan Road

As I enter Qing He Fang street, I go back in time over 1000 years, and walk down the street experiencing life as it was in the those times.

 Qing He Fang Street

Shops are selling product of the area:  folded-paper painted fans, umbrellas, silks, and teas.

 Fan, umbrella, silk, tea shops

Other shops are selling foods made in the old way and I watch two men pound out bread with large wooden mallots.  Everyone stops to watch this, and a few purchase the product.

Pounding out bread by hand

Alleys of Song He Fang street offer other small shops and food courts for dining pleasure. 

Food courts and stands

At the end of the street are beautiful pedestrian paths leading north and more fine-silk shops.  The sale counter in one shop is selling silk products for 10 RMB ($1.60 USD).

 More fine silk shops

 Beautiful pedestrian walkways

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.

Back in the real city

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).

 Parks along the Grand Canal in Wulin Square

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hangzhou: Qiaoxi Historic Block on the Grand Canal

Continuing up the Grand Canal toward the Quaoxi Historic Block, I stroll along the banks of the canal, with great paths, views, and landscaping.

 Along the Grand Canal

As I approach the Quaoxi Historic Block, I first spot the Gongchen Bridge, the northern gate of Hangzhou on the canal.  "Gong" denotes welcome and "Chen", of Imperial Palace:  the tall arched bridge symbolizes welcome and respect for the emperor.  The bridge itself is 16 meters (52 feet) high, but only 92 meters (102 feet long), making for quite a steep up and down.

Gongchen Bridge

Crossing the bridge, I enter the Qiaoxi Historic Block, restored by the government in 2008 to feature designs from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  In addition to restaurants, cafes, and museums, the district features Chinese medicine and culture (especially ceramics) and shows the development of modern industry and commerce in Hangzhou and the influence of Western culture on housing in the area:  building simple brick-wood structures with a combination of Chinese and Western elements.


 Dancing in the plaza

 Historic block streets

 Ceramics shops

There are museums for famous products of the region:  umbrellas and scissors, knives, and swords.  The Chinese Museum of Knife, Scissors, and Swords features two halls:  "Knife and Sword" and "The Story of Scissors".  The China Umbrella Museum is the first umbrella museum in China and shows the culture, history, stories, manufacturing technique, and art of the umbrella.

 Knife, scissor, and sword museum, umbrella museum

Continuing down the river, back toward Hangzhou, on the other bank I find displays of river workers and equipment from the early days of the Grand Canal.

 Life along the canal

I follow several paths alongside smaller waterways leading off the Grand Canal and find quiet residential neighborhoods with great views and parks throughout.

 Along the Grand Canal

 Waterways off the canal

And, while there are no dancers on the route back, there are periodic musicians playing for everyone's pleasure.

Music along the canal

Tour boats are out on the Grand Canal, heading up and down the canal, carrying people on the water alongside the path I just walked from Wulinmen Square to Qiaoxi Historic Block.

Canal cruise

Reaching Wulin Square, I find more interesting sculptures and small parks along the way.

 Sculpture scattered randomly through the city

Next, it's time to explore life in Hangzhou during the Song Dynasty.