1. October 2017. A trip to the Chinese city of Hangzhou is all about one thing: the shimmering, dreamy majesty of West Lake. Surrounded by misty green hills and lush parkland as far as the eye can see, this booming city of 8.7 million stands as one of China’s most adored holiday spots. No surprise then that I chose Hangzhou for a five-day visit during the National Holiday Golden week. Having checked into my grubby but smartly located hostel digs, I wasted no time in getting lakeside with a visit to the gorgeous Singing in the Willows Park.
2. October 2017. Accessed via Nanshan Road on West Lake’s southeastern flank, Singing in the Willows is a stunning space with a one-kilometer lakeside walkway. I’d been expecting it to be ludicrously crowded, what with the holiday and all, but things were pretty manageable that first day. Sauntering along with my travel buddy, Señor Wonderboy, the vibe was chilled as we observed sleeping couples like this one and stopped to exchange pleasantries with curious locals.
3. October 2017. True to its name, the park’s main draw is the parade of charming willow trees that line the lakeside path. It took us a while to be able to claim one of the perfectly placed benches for ourselves. But when we did we really got settled in; snacking on mini mango cakes while watching all the paddleboats go back and forth.
4. October 2017. There are also a number of gazebos along the route that offer up the best lake views. They’re great for seeking shelter from the burning sun, or indeed drops of pesky rain, both of which we experienced during our time in Hangzhou. You’ll need to patiently wait for a photo opportunity like this one though, with tourists jostling, elbowing, standing in front of you and even walking through you like you’re Patrick Swayze in Ghost.
5. October 2017. This was my favorite Singing in the Willows spot, a perfectly peaceful little pond side boardwalk set away from the main path. For reasons completely beyond me, it sat ignored by the masses and we were able to enjoy it all to ourselves.
For more on my time in the city, have a look at my other articles on Hangzhou.
For more on the region, check out My 5s from around Zhejiang Province.
Like these? Then why not leaf through my many other 5s from across China.
I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.