It was quite a last minute decision to go to Hangzhou and I certainly didn’t plan to be there over the mid autumn festival to mingle with the crowd but it just happened due to several work schedule mismatched with my husband, I was concerned about spending 4 nights there would be too long but we ended the trip with a wish for a longer stay and vowed to go back asap upon our departure.
The last time I went to Hangzhou was over 20 years ago while still in college, we took a family trip to China and it was an unforgettable trip as well. Now I returned after 20 years with my daughters, role changed. I wanted to bring the kids to China to have a different cultural immersion than being in Europe and also wanted to visit the new hotel Amanfuyan. I was thrilled to discover that there is a 1.5 hour direct flight from Taipei, what other advantage can be better than this newly discovery? Everything fell into place so gone with the hesitations and budget, we are going!
It was a late afternoon flight out of Taipei so we didn’t get to the hotel until almost 8 and it was raining so we got to the room without seeing anything except feeling cold and wet. Since the hotel was in a village setting so it was dark with very little lighting, they wanted to keep that ancient ambience with minimum modern utility!
The hotel Amanayun is hidden in a valley to the west of West Lake, it was established during the Tang Dynasty, the property comprised of 42 rooms, suites and villas that once housed villagers who tended the neighboring tea field. It has the classical touch throughout the hotel, probably remnants of what has been left throughout the history. The hotel has a main pathway which their buggies run and where connects guest accommodations to other facilities. We enjoyed the village setting of the hotel very much, it feels as if we were going back in time, reminiscing how our ancestors lived.
We spent quite a bit of time strolling around the hotel, enjoying the the forest and sounds of water. The hotel itself is bordered by thick forests and groves of bamboo with a small streams that run along. Kids enjoy running along the pathway, stopping by the restaurants, hopping on the stones, looking at the streams, listening to the nature, it was an enjoyable place to spend time with kids. The rain didnt spoil the trip at all.
It drizzled the first day so we took it easy and just strolled along the shopping area, the famous Hefang Street, pedestrians only! The boulevard typifies the hustle and bustle of earlier eras in Chinese history. It was nice to see all the local shops with original Chinese items such as fans, teas, Chinese herbs, textiles, toys but of course mixed with some modern gadgets.
We took a hike up the Nine Streams on the 2nd day which connects to the LongJin Tea village then we visited the Tea Museum. The Nine Streams is a path comprises of multiple streams and flanked by LongJin tea field. The sun played hide and seek with the clouds but it was cool and made it very pleasant for the hike. Kids marshmellowed and gummy beared all along and enjoy the walk!
We didnt take the boat ride on West Lake until the 3rd day because we wanted to make sure the weather was good although a bit of rain does add that romantic touch to it. The boat ride started at 6 and lasted for 1.5 hour, 2 boats from our hotel were the only ones flowing on the lake, it was quiet and peaceful. Then we went for a walk on Sudi, the bridge that runs across the lake which took about 45 min., it was so pleasant to stroll along the water with all the willows, Hangzhou is definitely a picturesque place of beauty!
We watched the “Impression of West Lake” show in the evening directed by the famous Chinese director, Chang I Mou. It was gorgeously done, taken place entirely on the lake, what an amazing undertaking. Surprisingly my 2 toddlers not only didnt fall asleep as it was their bedtime, they enjoyed it so much that they didnt want the show to end.
We had to cancel our trip to the Wetland on the last day due to the rain, it was a pity but we didn’t want to carry the toddlers and have them drenched in rain with the possible chance of catching a cold so we just hung out at the hotel until we headed to the airport.
Hangzhou, famed for its natural beauty, I didnt realize it is one of the 7 ancient capitals of China, no wonder it is so rich in culture and history. Modern day Hangzhou is a busy city full of urban development especially on the new town side, the other side still retains the historic and cultural heritage.
Hangzhou, the West Lake, the Wetland, the willows, the bridges, the pagodas, even rain adds a romantic touch to it, the air has that mystical layer to it, no wonder it was once described “earthly paradise”, it is indeed!