Hangzhou’s West Lake: the picturesque polluted garden

I can’t say I’ve had the chance to do any sightseeing since I got to China. I started work the day after I arrived here and then I was crazy busy with settling into my apartment. To think I haven’t even gotten started on all the hoops I had to jump through to get my residence permit done. So on my days off I haven’t had the energy to do very much.

But all that finally changed today. 

I woke up this morning determined to get out of the house and take a wander around Hangzhou to see what it had to offer. I really felt like I needed time with nature so I headed to the super famous and super picturesque West Lake.

On the way to the lake, I found a ‘Muslim Food’ restaurant. In China, most ‘Muslim Food’ restaurants are from the Northwest Xinjiang region. I love Xinjiang Cuisine and in my excitement, I ended up ordering dapanji at 1030am. What the hell was I thinking ordering a plate of big plate chicken to have all by myself at that hour?!? 

I made it about half way through the dish. I felt bad wasting it, but then again – it isn’t the best plate of big plate chicken I’ve ever had. 


Dapanji is mean to be bursting with a million different flavours – but this was mild, much too tomato-ey and didn’t have all those teeny tiny spices that explode in your mouth. The food wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t great either…

Ah well. You live. You learn. 

And then it was off to West Lake. From what I gathered, it isn’t a particularly popular place with foreign tourists. Don’t get me wrong, it was really really crowded – but it seemed to be mostly locals or perhaps even internal tourism. You can take a boat to row on the lake, but I couldn’t be bothered with such gimmicks. 

The weeping willows that were everywhere had a way of making the West Lake area look tragic for reasons that I can’t possibly fathom. The weeping willows were lovely – in a melancholic kind of way. I never knew a tree was capable of such great sadness…

By the way, the 6.5 square km lake area is manmade… The best time to visit is spring, but it’s currently autumn/winter so I got to see some red maple leaves… Yay! It really brought back memories of momiji season in Japan

The West Lake area is very vast and beautiful – but the pollution in China has a way of making even the most pristine garden spaces smell like an ashtray. And if the pollution isn’t bad enough – it seems like nearly everyone smokes. I don’t get it…

The park is free; so I spent hours and hours just walking around. And I don’t even think I managed to see all of it. There are loads of benches so I stopped to take a seat every 20-30 minutes… There are also plenty of side streets where you can just take a wander and see where you wind up…

I was pretty exhausted by the time I got back. I desperately needed a nap, but there was a ridiculously loud baby shower going on downstairs my building…

Oh the joy…

I’m going to try and squeeze in a bit more sightseeing tomorrow.

Till next time, try and get some fresh air.


6 thoughts on “Hangzhou’s West Lake: the picturesque polluted garden

  1. Yay, you made it! I’m late to the party, but happy to read you’re in a place you want to be! Weeping willows always add a melancholy air to everything. Love them!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s