Paradise on Earth

Written by Jun 14, 2004 20:06
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Paradise on Earth

"Above is heaven, below is Hangzhou" is a famous Chinese saying that can pretty well describe this place! It is a heaven on earth! You may have heard of the famous West Lake, but that is not what alleviates Hangzhou to its present level. What catapults a visitor to cloud nine are the scenic areas around the lake. Here are just a few of them arranged as to how I rate them(I would like to write more, but the space is limited) :

1. The LIngyin Temple- definitely a place to behold! IIt was said that in 326 A.D. a monk by the name Hui Li came to Hangzhou and found this valley very ideal for the retreat of the soul with quiet surroundings and wooded hills on three sides. He built a temple there and named it "Monastery of the Soul's Retreat". Soul in Chinese means "ling" and retreat means "yin", therefore the monastery came to be locally known as Lingyin Temple. It consists of 9 huge buildings, 18 pavilions, over 72 halls and 1300 rooms for the over 3000 monks residing there. In one of the temples you can also see China's largest sitting statue of Buddha. It is 19.6 meters high carved out of 24 pieces of camphor wood and gilded with 104 ounces of gold! The heavenly scent of burning incense can clear a clouded mind and can surely make one feel calm and at ease.

2. Tiger Spring- the serene, cool atmosphere makes one feel like a monk in meditation.It got its name from the legend of an eminent monk who saw two tigers clawing the ground until a spring bubbled up, hence the name! You definitely must take a picture with the monk and the two huge plaster tiger statues.

3. Pagoda of Six Harmonies- It is one of the most prominent wood-and-brick structures of ancient China. The name of the pagoda is related to the six codes of Buddhism. The 200ft pagoda is sure to sweep you off your feet!

4. Peak from Afar-
This place boasts of the largest collection and best-known stone carvings dating from the Five Dynasties to the Yuan Dynasty in southeast China. The peak is distinguished for its THREE MOSTS in China: the most Yuan stone carvings, the most Arhat carvings, and the most Lamaist figures. As you trudge along the path you'll always notice a carving or two. Some slowly fading away and others without a limb.

5 Bamboo-lined path at Yunqi- The word YUNQI means clouds lingering;it was said that long ago some auspicious clouds lingered there, hence the name. There would be nothing else to see but a sea of bamboo. You'll definitely drown in its greenness!

While you're there, you might as well purchase a book entitled "Greater Hangzhou: A New Travel Guide" Reading it can make you have a taste of paradise! You'd surely want to visit Hangzhou!

Hangzhou dishes:To die for!

It is said that the best way to a man's heart is thru his stomach...if you see Hangzhou as a female, you'd fefinitely be head over heels for her! The dishes in Zhejiang Province are known for their delightful blending of sweet and salty flavors. Hangzhou cuisine has three special features namely: LIGHTNESS-the dishes are not as oily and anyone can take them without fear of indigestion! FRESHNESS-be it fruits, vegetables, meat or fish products,you are always assured of its freshness...the ingredients are always crisp, tender and mouth-watering! SWEETNESS-the chefs have a nasty habit of adding a little bit more of sugar in their specially prepared dish! Be careful, it might get you addicted if you have a sweet tooth.

I'd love to have tried all the local dishes if I had only enough time. There are a lot, but I'll just name a few. Just the ones I tried and found most sumptous!

1. Dongpo Pork- named after a famous poet He was also appointed Governor of Hangzhou twice! At one time, the people were so happy, they presented him many gifts such as pigs and wine. Being humble of heart, Dongpo ordered his men to slaughter the pigs and cook them in the wine to give to the people. It turned out to be most tempting! In gratitude, the people favorably called it Dongpo pork! It is limp, soft and easily melts in the tongue. It was also quite cheap for such a large portion!

2. Beggar's Chicken- The most famous of all the Hangzhou dishes. It got its name from a story when an emperor once took a ride out in the country and was able to smell something delicious. He ordered his men to trace the scent and found an old beggar roasting a chicken. I guess we have to pay tribute to the beggar for such a mouth-watering delicacy! It is stuffed with fillet, onion, ginger and other spices. Yum-yum!

3. Sweet and Sour Carp- This dish is definitely to die for...literally speaking because if you don't be careful, you just might have a needle-like fish bone stuck in your throat! But where is the fun without the danger! The meat is so tender and the sauce that it's cooked in is spicy! It'll leave you mouth watering! Ha ha ha!

4. Waxberry-Ok this is not a dish, but you must try this fruit! It's like a combination of the redness of a strawberry and the juiciness of an apricot!

Bon Appetite!

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