Lost in Translation in Hangzhou – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Lost in Translation in Hangzhou

“Welcome to the back!” proclaimed an English sign at the front door of a small Chinese restaurant in Hangzhou, a city in China, known for its West Lake. It was here where Marco Polo once sailed, mesmerized by its stunning beauty and declared the place in ancient times as “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Six exhausted backpackers from four countries and I, who all met in a hostel, froze for a moment in silence, as if trying to decipher one of China’s ancient, decrepit signboard. We exchanged quick glances, hoping one had a clue to share. We were pretty sure we were standing at the entrance, not the back, of the restaurant. Almost in unison, we quickly realized what the sign meant was, “Welcome back.” It’s one of those rampant translations gone wrong in Chinglish, a blend of Chinese and English.

With hunger excruciatingly creeping into our stomachs, we gave up looking for another restaurant. We’d been walking all day and we were so hungry we could eat a barrel of dumplings sans chopsticks.

Two ladies behind the reception desk smiled when we came in. One disappeared quickly to call someone from the kitchen. When we were all seated, the other waitress came with a kettle of tea and a vacuum flask of hot water. She carefully poured the hot water and tea alternately with impeccable skill. When she was done, she said something in Chinese and our jaws dropped. We understood not a single word. She looked at each one of our tired faces, hoping a single one of us could make sense of what she just said. Meeting our uncomprehending looks, she smiled sheepishly and left embarrassed.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

China Gay Travel Resources

 

Hangzhou & Shanghai

Author: , July 22nd, 2016

Hangzhou & Shanghai

The sun is setting…I think. I’ve arrived in Shanghai after a 15-hour flight, and I’m not sure what day it is, let alone what time of day: the permanent haze that hovers over much of China’s 3.7 million square miles masks any clues. Shanghai Pudong International Airport offers a harsh juxtaposition of the familiar and the unknown, a theme that will reappear throughout my journey to two of China’s major east coast cities.

I hop on a shuttle bus that takes me southwest from Shanghai’s city center to Hangzhou. The cities blur together along the two-hour journey (or 45 minutes by bullet train), where endless clusters of high-rise complexes blend into one another. Imagine the Vegas Strip held up to a mirror, an endless stream of towering residential buildings, outlined in neon and saturated floodlights. But as I peer out the window amid the slowly chugging traffic, closer inspection reveals a kind of post-apocalyptic urban planning to accommodate the country’s 1.3 billion inhabitants. Construction cranes pierce the skyline and it’s hard to tell whether certain projects are underway or have been abandoned midstream. China, I am soon to find out, is a country and a people of contradiction.

HANGZHOU – RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH

For most Westerners (including myself prior to this trip), Hangzhou may not be on your China bucket list, but consider adding a few days to your itinerary to explore a city that, at least by the standards of ear- lier centuries, was one of the most powerful ports in the world. The Sui Empire finished the Grand Canal in 609 CE, a 1,100-mile engineering feat that finally connected Hangzhou to Beijing in the north and positioned it as a vital trading post.

Hangzhou’s port eventually filled with silt in the 15th century, but skip ahead 600 years or so, and you’ll find a thriving metropolis for the new millennium. It’s now a major technology hub with Alibaba Group at its epicenter, a multi-faceted e-commerce company that holds the record for the largest IPO of all time on the New York Stock Exchange, totaling $25 billion. Put that mind-boggling figure momentarily aside, along with worries that China could conceivably crash the global economy. Hangzhou’s wonders lie in its natural beauty and deep traditions of culture and cuisine. Transcend political agendas and appreciate the region for its hidden gems that remain some of China’s greatest gifts.

By Matthew Wexler – Full Story at Passport Magazine

Carlos Melia – Two Days in Hangzhou and the Beautiful West Lake District

Author: , August 24th, 2015

Carlos Melia

Our short visit to Hangzhou, also known as the West Lake, was rather short but marvelous. We came from Shanghai ( over an hour ride by speed train ). One of eastern China’s natural jewels, the 650-hectare (1,600-acre) lake is surrounded by a lush green shoreline, with views of majestic mountains, ancient temples, traditional pagodas and graceful bridges.

Our visit consisted on a lovely private tour of the West Lake Park + Visit to the Lingyin Temple – biggest Buddhist temple in China + Panoramic walk and views from atop the Peak Mountain – highest mountain in Hangzhou – and visit to the Lingshun Temple + Lunch and site inspection of the lovely Amanfayun by Aman Resorts + Some shopping at the main commercial center + A fantastic stay at my favorite Four Seasons property in China, the Fours Seasons West Lake.

First stop was, over a private tour, at the gorgeous West Lake. It is like visiting the world’s largest traditional Chinese garden, with ancient temples, pagodas and delicate bridges. Hangzhou and particularly the West Lake, UNESCO World Heritage Site, are considered one of China’s most famous and beautiful destinations. 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 in China, Japan and Korea.

We came to visit the Fayun Village, invited by the Amanfayun Resort by Aman Resort – following our previous experience at the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing – where we spent half day touring around the many highlights, like the Lingyin Temple – biggest Buddhist temple in China. Panoramic walk – pretty long and steep by the way, atop the Peak Mountain – highest mountain in Hangzhou – and visit to the Lingshun Temple.

Carlos MeliaLiterally translated as Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, Lingyin Temple, located next to the Amanfayun Resort, is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, and contains numerous pagodas and Budddhist grottoes.

Our panoramic walk, atop the Peak Mountain – Feilai Feng. Of course once on top, we realized we could have taken in full comfort, one of their cable cars… ha ha ha… but honestly our option was much more enjoyable.

Next stop was lunch at the Steam House Restaurant at the lovely Amanfayun resort. Nestled in a valley near West Lake on the west fringes of Hangzhou, Amanfayun is surrounded by ancient temples, bamboo forests and terraced tea fields, a world away from urban life. Discoveries await throughout the peaceful resort as well as the region beyond, whether it is a morning prayer session with Buddhist monks, a soothing nature walk or a visit to a neighbouring tea plantation. We tried some local small dishes and a fantastic steam fish dish. After that we followed the General Manager of the property on a full site inspection of the resort.

Carlos MeliaNext and last stop, before heading to our hotel for the night, was a walk along the main Chinese Market of the West Lake District. Lots of local shops, medicine houses, tea stores among many others. Was quite interesting to mingle with the locals, although I would have expect this to be more driven to tourists. Here we found our own Pixiu which we brought back to the United States with us. Pixiu is a Chinese mythical hybrid creature considered to be a very powerful protector to practitioners of Feng Shui. It resembles a mix of a dragon and a lion.

Final stop for the rest of our stay in the West Lake District, was the beautiful, peaceful and relaxing Four Seasons Hangzhou. A tranquil enclave woven with ponds, streams, swans and lagoons. Once we got to the resort, we never left till our time to head back to the train station, to head back to Shanghai. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner was outdoors at the many restaurants around the property. Infinity pond overlooking the West Lake. Imperial style indoor pool.

Off we went back to Hangzhou Railway Station, to take our train back to Shanghai, to continue our journey in China. And now that I am back, after visiting Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, I must say that the West Lake, together with the Summer Palace in Beijing, both rank top on my choice to return.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | China Gay Travel Resources