Heyo! Low-text entry this time - need to get caught back up with Flickr. So, I'm just going to share the "highlight reel" images of Hangzhou. Enjoy!
First of all, if you missed it last time, the new Art Academy campus by Amateur Architecture (outside Hangzhou a short drive to the southwest) is a must-see for architects. It's a wonderland!
Amateur are based in Hangzhou, and they've also masterminded a substantial intervention in the city fabric, on Zhongshan Lu. For full coverage of both of these projects, see my earlier blog on Amateur, or if you just want the pictures, check the Amateur Architecture set on Flickr.
Popular British architect David Chipperfield has also done several projects in Hangzhou; due to traffic, we didn't make it out to either his "Nine Tree Village" or "Bailujun Village" developments, and I'm not sure how public either of those is. But the Liangzhu Museum is an interesting piece; I have mixed feelings about the project, detailed here, but it does deliver some really nice moments.
But hey - blah blah blah, famous architects whatever - - - Hangzhou is one of China's great garden cities, and the best reason to come here is just to spend time around the famous West Lake, an artificial body gradually expanded and improved since the second century A.D. to incorporate a number of garden features. For the rest of these items I won't bother linking to specific posts - just check out the full set of Hangzhou free-day photos if you're interested.
Anyway, this long (don't try to walk the whole thing!) perimeter of garden space was a welcome respite after a week of hardscrabble, jam-packed tourism. Bear in mind that Hangzhou is a one-hour train ride from Shanghai - while much of the city is your typical hyper-developed contemporary Chinese mallscape junk, the payoff of these amenities is just tremendous. Even on an overcast day, it's lovely.
Among the improvements to the lake are two long causeways (strung together with a few arched bridges); this is the Su Causeway, named for Su Shi, an 11th century scholar and governor responsible for many of West Lake's features. Would be great on a bike.
The scenery and the wealth of Hangzhou (the southernmost sea-serving port on the Grand Canal) also sponsored the development of monasteries and temples. This is the Leifeng Pagoda, recently reconstructed and upgraded with the addition of an staged escalator ride to the top of the hill, and an elevator within the pagoda itself. It's also a great spot from which to view the lake, although as usual this would be better on a sunny day. More photos and details begin here.
Further out from town is a more extensive monastic complex around Feilai Feng, or "flying peak," as supposedly the hill was so geologically distinct from its surroundings that it seemed to have flown in from some other place, perhaps India, the source of Buddhism. The rock-carved Buddhas are justifiably famous, and a pleasant walk may also be had. I again took this as a brain-clearing respite from Too Much Architecture: it's just nice to be in the woods, on winding paths that take you over tree roots, through some caves, and past some rock carvings.
The temple complexes themselves are great - here we're looking at the Lingyin Temple.
And here we're looking at....another temple. Same area, a little further along the road from Lingyin. Not sure - but it's great, with a series of different pavilions stringing their way up the hill.