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June 29th 2008 by Tina

Posted under China

We boarded the morning train in Shanghai, and, after a wonderfully comfortable ride, reached Hangzhou by lunchtime. We had already booked seats on the 6:30p train back to Shanghai, which left us with just over six hours to explore. We took the city bus to West Lake in the center of the city. Hopping off the bus at the first sign of water, we grabbed a bite of lunch and then rented a pair of bikes to ride around the lake. A nice wide sidewalk bordered the lake but we soon learned that no bikes were allowed on it. After only fifteen minutes, we returned the bikes and began an hours-long stroll on the sidewalk. The surface of the lake was a pale blue that blended with the hazy sky. We spent the day walking leisurely, stopping to rest when we found a particularly pretty place. The lake was sectioned off by land bridges and islands, which made it seem like many lakes, each with its own unique atmosphere with gardens, parks, boats, pagodas and pavilions.

Our favorite area was the Quyuan Garden, a collection of gardens with willows, lush grasses, abundant lotuses, rivulets and pavilions, all combined in a series of picture-perfect landscapes. These are some of my favorite days on the road; the ones where beauty, harmony and romance seem to fill the air as I walk, happy and carefree with the one that I love. Asian gardens are among the most beautiful gardens in the world. Of all of the things that I will miss about Asia, its gardens are at the top.

When the time came to head back to the train station, we had barely traversed a third of the lake’s perimeter. Nevertheless, our legs were thoroughly stretched, out paws achy from pounding the pavement, and we were ready to go “home”.

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