Chongwu Stone Arts Expo Park, February 2018. The only reason to make the trek out to the isolated Chinese outpost of Chongwu is for this fascinating park, set between a section of the town’s ancient walls and a pretty strip of beach overlooking The Taiwan Strait. The section of wall that runs through the park dates back to 1387 and is one of the best preserved city walls in China.
Su Causeway, October 2017. This 2.6 km walkway through West Lake was constructed in 1086 by the famous poet and Hangzhou governor Su Shi. It was a time of great poverty and drought, so Su ordered the dredging of the lake and used the resulting mud to build a new causeway. Later on six bridges were added and willow trees planted on each side. This photo is an aerial view of the causeway taken from the top floor of Leifeng Pagoda.
Shuangtou Bridge, October 2017. I must have covered every inch of West Lake’s gorgeous parkland during my five days in Hangzhou. This beautiful little bridge, located in Changqiao Park near Tangyun Art Gallery, is probably my favorite West Lake spot.
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.
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.
Gulangyu Island, August 2017. As amazing as the Chinese city of Xiamen undoubtedly is, the real inspiration for my trip to Fujian Province was the prospect of a visit to Gulangyu Island. Reached via a fifteen-minute ferry ride from Xiamen International Passenger Terminal, I was horribly unprepared for what an almighty battle it would be to get a spot on one of the hourly boats! Actually, the behavior I encountered in the ticket office queue was one of the most distasteful experiences from all my Chinese adventures. There’s so much I could write about that crappy morning, but I shall save it for a future short story. In the end, all that mattered was that I got my ticket, fought my way onboard and, a short while later, planted both feet on Gulangyu.
Bailuzhou Park, August 2017. A nomadic friend of mine once described China as a place with “lots of beautiful things to see, nothing to do”. On more than one level, I know exactly what he meant. When it comes to Chinese cities I know what I’m gonna get in a round about way – another stunning temple, delicious, cheap, rough and ready street food and at least a handful of meticulously sculpted parks and gardens. I’d like to think of myself as something of a Chinese park connoisseur, lord only knows I’ve seen enough of them over the years. In Xiamen alone there are ten in and around the city centre, so I had to do my research and handpick just a few for special attention.