This is my seventh visit to this city made in 2012 and my first during the winter. It takes place right after my trip to Laos.
Paintings of West Lake
There's no better way to get around than by bike.
Years ago I bought a bike for RMB 150 (~ USD 20). I'm disappointed to learn that it's rusted through after years of neglect. I'm even more disappointed to learn that most bike shops have gone out of business, replaced by businesses catering to electric or gas scooters.
Luckily, Hangzhou now has a bike sharing program.
My first stop is West Lake. In the summer, the lake is surrounded by lush greens and its corners covered in blossoming lotuses. In the winter, almost everything is gray save for the foliage, which splash the lake with vivid colors, strokes of bright yellow from the willows and dabs of dark green and red from the ornamental garden trees. The scenery resembles a Literati painting.
A path snakes between autumn colored trees.
A bench looking out to a bleak gray.
Some paths are more yellow.
Others are greener.
North of West Lake
My cousin brings me to the mountains north of West Lake, an area I hadn't explored much before. It's a pleasant hike with solid views from the hilltop of the surrounding areas.
My hike starts on the entrance to Golden Dragon Cave.
The view from Chu Yang Tai, a pagoda overlooking the lake.
A windy path.
As we near the end of the trail, the skies tinge with a slight pink from sunset.
There's a residential community at the edge of the forest. The homes occupying it are made of concrete in the style of buildings that were most common in Hangzhou when I first visited in 1993. There's a vague sense of nostalgia I feel when I see these kinds of communities and their houses.
Walls delimiting the community grounds.
Washbasins by the wall.
Preparing dinner in the alleyway kitchen.
Clothes hanging to dry.
Wear and tear have contributed to the aesthetic, the character, of these homes. Certainly, some of these buildings could use repairs and some tidying, but for me they're unique to what I see as an integral part of Hangzhou's identity.
Sadly, neighborhoods like these no longer fit with the directive of Hangzhou the modern city. This neighborhood is marked for demolition (which itself probably encourages some of the neglect seen), likely to be replaced by a chic restaurant or cafe.