No dragon boats to report, I'm afraid. They were all at the Xixi Wetlands which we decided would be too wet for us that day. Also we'd have had to hire a chauffeur.
Instead, we walked right around the West Lake. Starting out around midday at the Jiefang Lu corner, we went through the park––Orioles Singing In The Willows––sitting on a damp bench to eat sandwiches from the supermarket smothered in salad cream (which makes for soggy bread) during a break between showers, then stopping further on to rent a "self-driving" boat for an hour, i.e. one that had a little electric motor that could propel us forward, backward or be turned off altogether so that we could enjoy the peace and quiet away from the shore and watch the Chinese herons fishing as we sat close together on the small seat under the little canopy. It started raining while we were on the water so I put up my umbrella.
That afternoon, we walked the length of the Su Causeway (苏堤) named after Su Dongpo, a poet-governor of the 11th century, who had the lake dredged and this dyke constructed from the silt. He planted peach trees and willows on it and they're still there. We walked alongside many families and tourists riding bikes or the little open sided buses (like golf carts). Sometimes the shores were visible with the misty hills and pagodas beyond, sometimes not. It was a metaphor for life, so it struck me later, all these strangers merging for a short while, mostly cheerful, occasionally acknowledging one another's presence with smiles, confined to a narrow route through the mist. With mysterious water lapping on either side of us, we were obliged to keep moving along in a straight line towards a destination we couldn't quite see, some old, some younger and arm-in-arm, some pausing at the side of the path to embrace under the trees. Little children were being picked up and carried. At intervals, stall keepers would vie for our attention and try to sell us things. Purposeful individuals were striding along by themselves at a fast pace, others dawdling in groups, the youngsters indulging in horseplay. From one end of the causeway to the other, we crossed six stone arches (bridges).
|A causeway bridge, Xi Hu, Hangzhou|
We returned to town via the Gushan once again, having a long sit-down in, of all places, a Costa Coffee outlet in a dark, wooden pagoda surrounded by magnolia grandiflora trees and tropical palms and such, all wet. Not like the Costa coffee place on Reading railway station, indeed no.
When it gets dark, they put on a free show in the lake, near the mooring place for the giant, golden dragon (a three deck pleasure boat), with fountains leaping in time to amplified music and lit up by lights of changing colours. Just beautiful with the hills in the background, lights showing dimly through the trees on their slopes. The little pavilions round the edges of the lake are also floodlit.
A quotation from the directions to visitors to West Lake:
Please be a good behaved visitor. Please obey the law and social morality, protect the environment and visit attractions in a healthy way. Please do not pluck flowers and branches and do not catch wide (sic) animals willfully. The attraction is a civilised place for people to learn knowledge, enrich life, mould temperament and enjoy nature.