Leifeng Pagoda, October 2017. Wherever you happen to be on West Lake, you can’t miss the mystical form of Leifeng Pagoda jutting dramatically out of the greenery. Dating as far back as 975 AD, this is the oldest colorful bronze pagoda in China and attacks droves of visitors every day of the year.
Orioles Singing in the Willows, 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.
Plaza de La Nogalera, July 2016. It would be an understatement to say that the Spanish resort of Torremolinos doesn’t have a great reputation. Disparaged by many as the grottiest of the Costa del Sol towns, I arrived here with staggeringly low expectations. After all, this is a resort that’s picked up unwanted nicknames like Torrid-Molinos and The Armpit Of Spain. Imagine my relief then when I exited the train station out into this sleepy little square. Ok, there was a Dealz pound shop and some tattooed bottom feeders leaning against a lamppost discussing how amazingly pissed they’d got the night before. But other than that the overall vibe seemed rather… pleasant.
Jing’an Temple, August 2009. If, like me, you’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring Asia, you’ll know that there comes a moment when you get all templed out. So by the time I rolled up in Shanghai I decided to limit my temple explorations to the charms of this A-list structure on West Nanjing Road. Dating back to AD 1216, it was all but completely destroyed by a fire in 1972. After a full restoration, Jing’an reopened in its current form in 1990.
The Pudong, August 2009. Nothing whets the appetite for a trip to Shanghai like some Google Image bingeing of the city’s breathtaking Pudong Skyline. Located east of the Huangpu River on Century Avenue, directly facing the waterfront Bund neighborhood, The Pudong offers up an irresistible stretch of Shanghai’s most iconic buildings. This photo shows my favorite Pudong structure, The Oriental Pearl Tower, a 468-meter TV Tower built in 1994. Featuring a shopping centre, a revolving restaurant and multiple viewing decks, it stood as China’s tallest structure until 2007 when the Shanghai World Financial Centre surpassed it.
Beach 2, August 2009. Welcome to the sleepy port city of Yantai in Shandong Province. I’d been travelling around Shandong for several weeks when someone recommended Yantai as a pleasant place to head purely for a spell of beach lazing. “The beach isn’t actually up to much,” he admitted with a wry smile. “And the city centre doesn’t have anything going on”. It was quite the sales pitch, but nevertheless I felt fascinated by this seemingly unloved coastal outpost. Most of the visit was spent here on Beach 2 reading; sleeping, swimming and watching people build sandcastles.
Xinhao Shan Park, August 2009. The coastal city of Qingdao is my favorite place in Shandong Province. There are cobbled streets and European-style squares with churches and German architecture. Away from the insanity of the central strip, there are secluded beaches and peaceful parks. And you shouldn’t skip the craziness of Beer Street and the Tsingtao Brewery, while there are also stunning beauty spots like this hillside park and its splendid three hundred and sixty degree views across Qingdao.