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Hangzhou’s Version of ‘Journey to the West’ 2019-06-24
‘Journey to the West (西游记)’, a novel listed as one of ‘Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature’, enjoys international fame with its English version commonly known as ‘Monkey’. In the novel, protagonists encounter various types of supernatural beings on their journey to the West, however, Hangzhou’s version of ‘Journey to the West’ doesn’t involve any demons, only breathtaking scenery and both historical and cultural heritages.

The West Lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides, and behind these mountains lies the west side of the West Lake scenic area which reach Zijingang to the north and Qiantang River to the south and includes Zhijiang Tourist Resort, Xixi Wetland, Phoenix International Innovation Park and Longwu Tea Village, to name a few. Many days are needed to explore all these places, however to learn about the essencte of the area, following the five guided routes listed below is more than enough. 

Dongjiangzui Fishing Village (东江嘴渔村)→Lingshan Scenic Area (灵山风景区) → Shuangling Village (双灵村)

Dongjiangzui lies at the end of the Zhijiang section of “Three Rivers and Two Banks” Greenway and walking and bicycling are recommended methods to reach the place. Along the greenway, you can enjoy roadside seasonal flowers and distant views of Pagoda of Six Harmonies, Jade Emperor Hill and Qianjiang Bridge etc.

At the Dongjiangzui Fishing Village, three rivers converge, bringing along them with abundant fishing resources. The Haihuangxing Ecological Amusement Park (海皇星乐园), the largest of its kind, covers an area of over 500, 000 sq. m and is a great place to enjoy family fun, fruit picking, shrimp fishing, tasting fresh aquatic food, enjoying 5D movies etc.

After a peaceful night spent in one of the farmhouses in the village, head out for about 10 km before reaching the Lingshan Scenic Area with its highest peak - Ruyi Peak (如意尖) pointing to the sky. It’s at the foot of Ruyi Peak where Shuangling Village lies, a place which is home to Jiu Qu Hong Mei (九曲红梅) black tea - the gold medal winner of the Panama International Food Expo in 1886.

Inside the village is Yexiu Taoyuan pottery art museum (野秀陶园艺术馆), featuring an ancient courtyard, the combination of fragrant Jiu Qu Hong Mei black tea and pottery making. 
Tips: The annual cherry blossom festival of Haihuangxing Ecological Amusement Park will be held from March 20 to April 20. Its thousand-meter-long cherry blossom avenue is a lovely place to take photos.

Laoheshan Hill (老和山) → Northern Peak (北高峰) → Qingzhiwu (青芝坞) → Xixi Valley (西溪谷)

A 108 km long flagstone road winds its way through Laoheshan Hill, Northern Peak, Baizijian, Pingfengshan and Xiaoheshan Hills. Most people choose to hike along the road from Laoheshan Hill to Northern Peak. Hiking from Laoheshan Hill for about 2 hours, you can reach the Temple of Wealth (财神庙) where you can pray for a fruitful and prosperous year. Further on, you can visit the famous Lingyin Temple to view the majestic construction and learn more about its profound Buddhist culture.

If that’s not enough, feel free to hike further and marvel at the landscape belt of Shili Longji (十里龙脊: 5000-meter-long Chinese dragon spine). Standing high on Shili Longji, the panoramic view of Hangzhou city, West Lake and Qiantang River rolls out before your very own eyes.

Next day, the first attraction on your to do list is the Xixi Valley walking path, which is wide enough for both walking and cycling. Qingzhiwu, not far from Laoheshan Hill, is a nice food block which has almost everything under the sun, restaurants, guesthouses, cafés and teahouses. One can also find any Bed & Breakfast inns and youth hostels, but reservations are required during peak holiday seasons.

Xixi Valley has 58 cultural heritage sites. Here one can find some valued pieces of calligraphy and painting by famed artists and personalities in Chinese history. Some temples seated in the valley are quite popular.

Tips:A lantern show will be held in Qingzhiwu from February 15 to March
5. Visitors can take part in guessing the answers to lantern riddles.

Xixi Wetlands → Westbrook Resort (西溪天堂) → Jiangcun Village Slow Life Block (蒋村慢生活街区) → Hezhu Street (河渚街)

In Hangzhou, Xixi Wetlands is a must-visit just like the West Lake. There, visitors can experience a fishing tour: board a sculling boat at Zhoujiacun Village wharf, glide along the creek to enjoy views at both banks and watch boatmen fishing and picking vegetables. In addition to that, 3.5 Jin (1 jin = 1/2 kg) of ordinary shrimps and fish, and 3 Jin of vegetables are free to be taken home.

Inside Westbrook Resort, resorts such as the five-star Banyan Tree and Sheraton, both of which feature traditional Chinese garden style, offer accommodation.

Your next day will be spent experiencing a leisurely lifestyle at Jiangcun Village Slow Life Block. The Block consists of two parts - Jiangcun Market and Hezhu Street. This is found in the interior of Xixi Wetland, and the ecological block is the best of its kind in the entire country. You can rent a bicycle to ride around as morning exercise.

Buildings in Hezhu Street are of Ming and Qing Dynasties style. You can find unique and daintily decorated stores, taste Japanese food at the Four Sisters Pub (四姐妹酒屋) and kill time at Lanlan Café or Cha Shi Teahouse.
Tips:An activity for appreciating plum blossoms will be held from
February 19 to March 12. Visitors can also go to see Yue Opera, Tai Chi and tea ceremony.

Shangcheng Daicun Village (上城埭村) → Waitongwu Village (外桐坞村) → Daqinggu (大清谷)

70% of the most authentic West Lake Longjing is produced in the Longwu area. Compared with other Longjing producing areas like Longjing and Wengjiashan villages, villages in Longwu area are more ancient and idyllic.

Shangcheng Daicun Village has about 800,000 sq. m of tea plantation and more than 40 distinctive farmhouses. Even the locals can’t resist the temptation to drop by once in a while to savour Longjing tea, farm-flavored dishes and bring home the smell of sweet spring unique to the area.

Up northward is Waitongwu Village, which is surrounded by tea gardens and is abundant in pomegranate trees. Some professors of Xiangshan campus of the China Academy of Art were drawn here to set up offices in the village and some art halls and salons sprang up like mushrooms, which in turn infuses artistic charm into the essence of the village.

Across the road, Waitongwu overlooks Daqinggu. Daqinggu offers visitors chances to try their hand at tea making, take part in tea tasting sessions and enjoy the leisurely, serene rustic life.

Tips:West Lake International Tea Culture Expo, Hangzhou, China will be held on March 27.

Phoenix International Innovation Park (凤凰国际创意园) → Xiangshan Campus of China Academy of Art → Song Dynasty Town (宋城) → Bojun Equestrian Club (伯俊马术会所)

It’s like a fairy cast a spell on the place and over the course of a night, the former cement plant is transformed into an innovation park which is now home to about 700 cultural innovation start-up businesses. Cement buckets, destructors etc. are reserved and turned into innovation offices, cafés, inns and eateries. A large grass lawn in the park provides contrast against the grey concrete of the building. The Oxygen Music Festival is held here usually in late spring or early summer.

A kilometer away from the park to the north, one can see the Xiangshan campus of the China Academy of Art, an absolute masterpiece designed by Wang Shu, dean of the School of Architecture .

Song Dynasty Town comes alive at night and is one of the most popular theme parks in China. Romance of the Song Dynasty, a panoramic-style indoor show, with high-tech visual and audio techniques enchancing its stage effects, will enable you to step into the past and participate in the ancient history of Hangzhou. 

Next day you can visit Bojun Equestrian Club, the only indoor race course in Zhejiang Province, with a track that is 800 meters long, 60 good horses and some foreign coaches.

Tips:The New Year Temple Fair will be held from February 19 to March 5,
which is also a great time to get involved in the local customs of the season.
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No.188, Fuchun Road, Hangzhou, China
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