This is the original. Over the years, many names have been given to this water body in Hangzhou, but none sticks like the original – the lake in the west side of town.
West Lake 西湖 is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, China. It is divided into five sections by three causeways. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake.
The view that launched a thousand poems
Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn (平湖秋月) – this is one of the classic Ten Views of West Lake 西湖十景 that was decided in Southern Song dynasty that had their capital in nearby Nanjing and passed down over centuries that make West Lake so famous.
Located at the west of Bai Causeway, facing the outer lake of West Lake, there is a broad platform stretching out of the water and forms a wide vision, it’s the best place to enjoy moon in Mid-autumn Festival.
And on the end of the platform, they built a pavilion. Perhaps the most famous pavilion around West Lake, Jixian Pavilion 集贤亭 (Pavilion of the Gathering Wisemen) is the point where you can get a picturesque view of West Lake in its entirety.
This is brand new reconstruction of the ill-fated rebuild that collapsed in 2012, which was a rebuild in 2002 of the demolished original from Qing dynasty. Remember, it is closed at night to prevent people from falling into the lake 😉
The most influential garden
West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics, and it has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers
The night is still young
As China modernise, the views and sights around West Lake caught up with the times. Youngsters want instagrammable views and sights so the original rustic beauties and views are not enough. Now you can see modern light installations around the lake, drowning out the beautiful natural sky with its light pollution.
Entertainment around the lake
And none of this is possible without financial support from the commercial activities around the lake. The rustic charm that I experienced back in the 80s and 90s have been rapidly rebuilt and replaced with modern malls that are run by the same folks in town. The lake is now surrounded by the same chain restaurants, each flaming to be the original Hangzhou cuisine.
For the record, there is only one original restaurant that remains open around the perimeter of the lake called 楼外楼 (“Tower beyond the tower”) because it was the only building back then outside the city limits. The rest are all imitates.
Jazz by the lake
And we have to up-class the entertainment around the lake too. There’s this very good jazz bar and restaurant located nearer to the Yue Fei Temple side of the lake that has been around since the 80s. The first set starts at 10pm, so go have your dinner and then come and enjoy some good music. For a table, there’s a minimum table charge that you need to spend.
Date Visited : May 2019