On the last day of May I walked through another of the Ten Best Views of West Lake and its environs, this place being called Lotus Swaying in the Breeze at Qu Yuan. According to the tourist info Qu Yuan means "Crooked Courtyard"-- maybe because it was the site of a "wine distillery" (sic) in the days of the Nan Song dynasty, and people couldn't see straight after drinking the stuff. In the pavilions I saw carvings and sculptures of those olden day drinkers and their retinue, all looking pretty happy. Nowadays the gardens and the peaceful views of the water are enough to keep everyone in a state of euphoria without any need for alcohol. A group of people doing Tai Chi exercises on one side of a lawn and a lady singing to the accompaniment of a gentleman playing the erhu on the other side. Ducks in the lily pads under the weeping willows and a peacock or magpie with a stripy tail flying through the taller trees. I saw dragonflies and a blue butterfly. The water lilies were in bloom and a gardener sailed slowly up the pond on a punt, one of the rainbow shaped bridges reflected in the water.
|Carving at Quyuan|
My lunch was another thing of beauty, in a private room open with a bamboo grove on the other side of the open window. The table was of polished slatted wood with a wickerwork trim, the serving cupboard also of polished wood with engraved doors. Out of delicate ceramic bowls and plates I was served a mushroom soup nothing like what Heinz gives you in a tin. I counted seven different varieties of mushroom in the delicious broth and also identified slices of bamboo and bok choy greens. Soup (tang) was one of the only very few words the waitress and I had in common, the others being yi xiao wan mifan (a small bowl of rice) and lu cha, green tea, which was of high quality and came in a tall glass, with the soup. There was no English on the menu and no pictures either, so I think I did well.
|Sculpture group at the site of the former distillery|