Two years later, I’m back in China and although based in Shanghai this time, I went on a quick trip to Hangzhou, like I’d promised I would.
The mountains are as beautiful as ever as is West Lake, despite the rather terrible air pollution these last few days. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed nature after being in Shanghai for 3 weeks. I’d forgotten how much I loved the juxtaposition of city/tea fields/small villages/mountains/lake so close together, the changes so rapid. On my second day, M and I walked up behind the tea museum into the tea fields and up some steps and suddenly we were on Jilong Mountain and from there, to Tian Ma Mountain then down a dirt path to a quiet temple.
The first day was for West Lake, up the western edge, with brides in red posing on walkways floating over the water. Then south and east for dinner at Wai Po Jia because the western side has mostly mountains and temples.
In the morning, a walk from my hostel in Siyanjing (Four eyed well) through Manjuelong and up past caves, one dark and filled with the music of water, another lined with carved statues appearing from the stone. To Nan gao feng where I helped an old man take photos. Mosquitos ate me alive and I have been itching since.
But there’s something about climbing the mountains in Hangzhou that is just so satisfying. You can keep on going until you want to stop—there is no set entrance or exit and I like to imagine taking a days-long hike over the mountains, one after another after another; I don’t want it to end. The mountainside is lush and there’s a tranquillity to it—in a touristy city, it feels like a respite.