Thirty six strange peaks,
Immortals with black top knots.
Morning sun strikes the tree tops,
Here in this sky mountain world.
Chinese people, raise your faces!
For a thousand years cranes come and go.
Far off I spy a firewood gatherer,
Plucking sticks from stone crevices.
-Li Bai “Dawn Vista On Huangshan”
There are some places in the world that just seem to inspire gushing wellsprings of poetry. Metaphors woven together to create tapestries that reveal glimpses of those inner workings that lie just below the surface. Meaning layered upon meaning until everything is saturated and more than the sum of its parts. Huangshan in China’s Anhui region is one of those places. Continue reading
It all started with a wooden table in an alley: square, unadorned, pressed up against a cement wall. It wobbled a bit on the uneven cobbles.
Somewhere nearby, a game of mahjong- the soft clinking of tiles echoed faintly on the evening air. Wisps of a forgotten dream, sounds from another time. I imagined the room where they played. Dark, smoky. Fingers twisted with age shuffling, shuffling, shuffling. The worn bone and bamboo whispers as it slides between mysterious symbolism and a poetry of deeper meaning. Through all that is lost and everything that is gained, what will be revealed? Plum blossom, peacock, white tiger, sword. Continue reading
D House Boutique Resort is a unique little place tucked away on a quiet pedestrian only street in an old section of Hangzhou. It is a hidden gem of a spot: perfectly located just steps away from Qinghefang Ancient Street, old neighbourhood alleys, picturesque walks along the canal, a drum tower, and Zhongshan Road- which shuts down to traffic in the evenings to make way for an assortment of food stalls and stands selling baubles. If that weren’t enough, it is a pleasant 30 minute walk to the West Lake area and Leifang Pagoda. All of the best parts of Hangzhou at your fingertips. Continue reading
We emerged from the narrow street where our little guest house sat nestled into a row of white washed buildings. It was quiet, and the essence of another era lingered between the walls and the cobbles. Then, as we rounded the corner and stood at the opening of Qinghefang Ancient Street we saw it: a throng of humans stretching as far as the eye could see. I am not going to lie- Continue reading
We woke on our first morning in Hangzhou to the sound of birds chirping in the courtyard. I kept my eyes squeezed shut and listened intently to their song, not yet wanting to break the spell, and tried to imagine what words the ancient Chinese poets would use to describe the moment. Is it possible that there was a proverb somewhere in their early morning music?
The bus hurdled westward until Shanghai was just a collection of faded grey shapes. I watched through the window as the suburbs rolled by: groups of colourful housing complexes creeping their way across green. Power lines, train tracks, industry. Even in the mystical land of the red dragon Continue reading
From Shanghai, you have a couple easy options for getting to Hangzhou. It serves as a nice hub for other points westward (Tunxi, Huangshan, etc…) and is definitely worth the stop for a day or two of exploring and eating. Continue reading