Have you ever seen three pools mirroring the moon?
Now, our day started early as we headed to Shanghai Hongqiao Railway station to pick up our tickets. We purchased our tickets on Ctrip, an online site resembling Expedia, so we just had to pick up our tickets with our confirmation number and passports. We arrived at our boarding platform just in time to catch the train and started to make our way to Hangzhou. After a short nap, we arrived and Hangzhou East Railway station. We took some time to eat some much needed breakfast and purchase tickets for our return home. Once all of our errands were finished, we took the metro which is located inside the Railways Station. The best way to get to West Lake from this location is to take Line 1 to the stop Longxiangqiao.
December 14th will mark the official date of my three month mark in China! Yeah it has been three months… I am still frequenting the small coffee shop in Hongkou called Waterfish during my lunch breaks. And here I am sitting and reminiscing about a small day trip I took about a month ago with my roommate James. We planned to visit Hangzhou, despite the weather telling us that it was going to be miserable that day.
First I should start by saying that our interest in Hangzhou was due to very high recommendations from people that have visited, its appeal due to proximity with Shanghai (only an hour train ride), and the fact that we had a built in tour guide: Luis! Due to my being Hispanic and all, I basically have friends and family all over the world! Here is where Luis comes in: my grandmother was best friends with his grandmother, who mentioned to my mom in passing that he had been living in China for quite some time now. So basically we are family. But I digress, Luis lived in Hangzhou for about 2 years so he knows the area well and was able to give us some amazing recommendations of places to see when visiting the city. So thank you again if you are reading this!
Once we arrive to the area, we began our journey around the lake by first walking through a small shopping area and walking towards the broken bridge. Before we crossed though, we made our way up to the Baochu Pagoda. This hill was pretty cool surrounded by bamboo and cool rock formations that you could climb. We made our way up the hill and watched a skillful Chinese family climb some of the boulders with a baby in their hands (I was very impressed, also very worried!). The view of the lake from this area was beautiful, and we got to admire the view for a little while before we headed down to the broken bridge. This bridges is a scenic spot, and attracts a large amount of tourists. The popularity of this bridge is due to it’s name: “The Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge in Winter” which is just a long way of saying the bridge looks really pretty in the winter when the snow has fallen. Otherwise it is just a pretty bridge similar to those seen in other water towns.
We then walked along the Bai Causeway and got ice cream at none other than Häagen-Dazs (which I’m not incredibly proud of, I was just really craving ice cream). We people watched a bit and decided to take a boat ride to a small island called "Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”. The boats are located right along the causeway and cost about 60rmb~ per passenger to take you to the small island, allow you to explore the island at your own pace, and return you to shore. I recommend everyone to take this little side track because it cuts your travel time around the lake while also giving you a different perspective and view of the lake. Because the weather was a bit cloudy, it was not as crowded as I imagine it could get on a nicer day, nevertheless, there were still large amounts of people being taken in and out of the small island. There are different areas on the island, each with it’s own appeal: some small buildings with traditional Chinese architecture and an old map of the lake, a boulder which is supposed to resemble a group of lions pilled on top of each other, a pond full of carp, a view of the Hangzhou skyline, and of course the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon which is also represented on the 1 yuan bill. From the island, you can take a boat to return to the same area you started on, or you can cross to the opposite site closer to the Leifeng Pagoda.
After returning ashore, we made our way to the Leifeng Pagoda which has one of the best views of the lake. The entrance fee is about 40rmb per person. The pagoda stands at 230 feet or about 70 meters and you can climb to the top floor where you can get a panoramic view of the area. In order to make your way to the top you first have to make your way through some stairs, or due to modernization and all, take the escalators to the entrance and then again choose between waiting in line for the elevator or take the stairs. We opted for the stairs, but fair warning the ceiling is low: tall people beware! (And by tall I mean anyone more than 5 foot five). The view is truly breathtaking, so I recommend everyone to make the trek upwards.
We then ventured to find some food closer to the metro station. We had a recommendation to eat at Grandma’s, however, the wait was just too long. We decided to just eat at a noodle restaurant nearby. Distracted by all the eating and talking going on, we were running late for our train back. We made our way to the station and tried as hard as we could to make our train. However, we didn’t. We just looked in amazement at each other for a second before the ticket agent at the gate told us to go to the information booth to get our tickets changed for the next train. After some asking around, and going to a different booth, we were able to get on the next train back to Shanghai at no extra cost! The catch? We had to stand for the whole hour back, which isn’t exactly terrible unless you have been sightseeing all day and your feet are achy and swollen.
The important part is that we made it back in one piece and had an amazing time! I was very happy to explore another amazing city in China and I got to do it with my amazing roommate. Thanks James for an incredible day, and thank you again Luis for the great recommendations!