Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Scenic West Lake (西湖)

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The beauty of West Lake, or Xi Hu (西湖), has enchanted poets, scholars, imperial officials and figures, and visitors from all over the world through ages and it is no wonder that the natural beauty of the freshwater lake and its landscapes earn its position in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2011.
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Located in the western part of Hangzhou, the capital of the Zhejiang province, West Lake is famed for its natural beauty and the inspiring landscapes of the gardens adorned with the historical relics around the area.
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The lake covers a massive area and and is one of the famous; if not the most famous lakes in the entire China and the world.
West Lake comprises of five lakes, three islands, two causeways, and one hill, which run through the picturesque lake and forming part of the lake, as described by the geographical landscapes.
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The five areas of the lake are divided into the Outer West Lake (外西湖); North Inner Lake (北里湖); West Inner Lake (西里湖); Little South Lake (小南湖) and also Yue Lake (岳湖).
The largest area is the Outer West Lake; and also mainly the part viewed and visited by most as it encompasses a large area across the lake, surrounded by the other four parts of the lake as mentioned above. Mountains and hills surround the lake on three sides, providing a breathtaking view to the beautiful scenery of the famous lake.

Three causeways divide the lake; Su Di(苏提), Bai Di(白堤) and Yanggong Di 杨公堤) and along with Gu Shan partitioned the lake into the five areas as mentioned earlier. However, of the causeways, the Su and Bai causeway run across the lake, gracing the various temples, pagodas, gardens, blooms, shores and also the man made islands dotting the area of the lake.
There are three man made islands on the lake; Xiao Ying Zhou, Ruan Gong Dun, and Hu Xin Ting and along with Gu Shan/Gu Hill form the natural landscape of the West Lake.

West Lake is the pride of Hangzhou, and also China, and it is no wonder, with the peaceful and tranquil settings surrounding the lake.
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The graceful and unique architectural design of the gardens, enriched with the colorful blooms, creating the bountiful setting, is the source of inspiration for the Oriental garden designs across China and also other Asian countries; such as Japan and Korea.
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The gardens surrounding West Lake are decorated with pavilions, tablets, statues, man made ponds, bridges; just to name a few. The swaying leaves of the willowy trees which appear like scarce curtains added to the natural beauty and tranquility of the scenery by the lake side.
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I felt like I was walking through fairyland when I encounter these willowy trees; and it is no surprise that I love these trees, which just suit the atmosphere by the lake.
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There are also top 10 scenic spots to enjoy the beauty of the famous West Lake, which are highly recommended by most travel guides; and are known as the Ten Scenes of Xi Hu (西湖十景):
1.Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring (蘇堤春曉)
2.Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer (曲院風荷)
3.Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn (平湖秋月)
4.Remnant Snow on the Bridge in Winter (斷橋殘雪)
5.Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset (雷峰夕照)
6.Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds (雙峰插雲)
7.Orioles Singing in the Willows (柳浪聞鶯)
8.Fish Viewing at the Flower Pond (花港觀魚)
9.Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon (三潭印月)
10.Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill (南屏晚鐘)

As I was there during the winter, this is the best I can get of some of the scenic spots (I do not have all the shots of the Ten Scenes):
The Su Causeway
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Leifeng Pagoda
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It will definitely look more beautiful in Spring, I guess, but I am still pleased I managed to capture, although it was little foggy that morning.

Unfortunately for us, the lotus have all dried up and withered in winter. I am sure it is a lovely sight when it is in full bloom in spring.
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A typical boat used to ferry passengers to enjoy the scenic view of the lake
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The beautiful gardens of West Lake
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Fengyu Pavilion
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West Lake is indeed a place that leaves a lasting impression in one's mind, and I have indeed heard of its wonders for a very long time and since then, I knew I wanted to visit this place.
Now that I have, I am entranced yet humbled by the magnificent works of God in the natural beauty endowing this place.
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It is no wonder this is the pride of China, and a recognized heritage site, and truly inspirational with its tranquil settings and as famous poet, Su DongPo says, it is comparable to Xi Shi, one of the China's top four beauties in his famous poem about West Lake, enclosed here:
"Ripping water shimmering on sunny day,
Misty mountains shrouded the rain;
Plain or gaily decked out like Xizi;
West Lake is always alluring."

For further reading on West Lake, do check out the following links:
The Beautiful West Lake
West Lake Wiki
West Lake (Xi Hu)
West Lake on China Tour Guide
West Lake on UNESCO Heritage

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