blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Facts about West Lake, and a cure for colds

Mooring station for gondolas on Xi Hu
June 7th, Tuesday

Chris suffered from a sore throat all night and got up feeling lousy, but had his breakfast and left for work all the same. Later in the morning I set off into town again. The lake was still grey, pewter coloured, and smooth. After some gift shopping I sat at an upstairs window seat at the lakeside Starbucks for ages, writing my diary and looking down on the gondolas moored by the promenade. The uniformed gondoliers stood there, smoking, or sat in their boats to eat a packed lunch with chopsticks.

Afterwards I took myself to the West Lake Museum (opened in 2005 on Nanshan Lu) to learn some facts.

Scorpion, Hangzhou
Because not everything was translated into English, I was puzzled by the diorama of an historically important man having his back tattooed with Chinese characters, but the display of stuffed animals from Zhejiang province was fairly self explanatory. It included seven different kinds of snakes including one I didn't like the look of, the dangerous naja naja atra (cobra) ... don't click on that link if you don't want to, Emma! It occurred to me later that maybe it hadn't been so prudent to wander around in the tea plantations in open toed sandals. There was a swan or goose, a wild cat of some sort, a ferret like creature and a kind of stunted deer. I didn't see anything about the scorpion Chris and I had nearly stepped on during our visit to the Lingyin Temple.

Dredging Xi Hu during the reign of Qian Liu (10th century)
West Lake, it seems, is not a very old geographical feature. A lagoon was formed from mountain streams some 2600 years ago and various local leaders have had it dredged and refined since, Su Shi, for instance, planting lotus to keep the water clean. In my last blogpost I mentioned the Su causeway, the western dyke he had constructed. A shorter dyke, the baigong di, was created earlier, in 822, and named after Bai Juyi, a famous poet from the Tang period.

Once again I read that Emperor Kangxi had built a palace on Gushan, the ruins of which I'd seen on my explorations, and was famous for naming the ten beauty spots (西湖十景). His son, who reigned between 1723 and 1735, went one better and named eighteen more must-see views! It was obviously the thing to do in the Qing Dynasty days.

In the evening the QNX team from Shanghai, Andy and Alan (not their original names, of course ... we had some discussion about that), took us out by car for a meal in the fish restaurant at the top level of the MixC Mall. It had an extraordinary ceiling made from strips of wood to ressemble a curvaceous fishing net. The dining booths were partitioned by walls of bamboo sticks. Andy and Alan were very solicitous about Chris' cold, and for about an hour before we actually ate anything we were obliged to share vast quantities of hot ginseng tea, drinking it from tiny cups. A beautiful girl performed the tea ceremony for us. The eventual food was good too, including a hot consommée soup, again for medicinal purposes. Chris asked what it was made of, and they alarmed him by answering: "pig lung soup, good for the lungs." He was absolutely forbidden to consume anything cold during his supper.

Westerners may scoff at Chinese medicine, but next morning, Chris felt completely better.


QEL Mechanical said...

Can't scoff about the medicine, just about what they supposedly grind up to put in it.

To quote Mr. Kurtzman in 'Brazil' - "My GOD, a mistake!". {wood to ressemble a curvaceous}


Alison Hobbs said...

I've left the spelling mistake in place for you, Chuck.