To be direct and honest. If one has already ventured across many cities within in the Zhejiang province, then you may become immediately aware that in terms of explicit and major distinctions are hard to find. What you get is minor differences in the architecture and design of the city, some may argue that these differences are quite bigger than they actually are, but in my opinion, they are not enough to justify the awe-inspiring factor that we all seek. Hangzhou is basically that type of city.
Initially, I did hold Hangzhou as possibly the most travel-worthy destination within the Zhejiang province, nevertheless, it didn’t meet my high expectations upon arrive.
West Lake (西湖）
This tourist destination was highly praised by various classmates, friends, and acquaintances, however, my personal experience of the popular lake proved to be mundane. Additionally, after watching Chai Jing’s (柴静) “Under The Dome”《穹顶之下》, which talked about the environmental issues that China is currently facing that predominantly focuses upon China’s smog problems, and guess what! Hangzhou is one of the cities in China heavy effected by air pollution and during my vision it was quite apparent. (Although it was also a rainy day)
Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺)
I believe this location was much more exciting than 西湖. But at the same time, if you have been to one temple in Jiangsu, you can pretty much bet that the other temples will display similar architectural designs and motifs. However, one may reason that one’s lack or abundance of historical context concerning each temple play a determining factor on the interest level. At the same time, I believe the exhibitions of the 1000 or so monks were extremely entertaining, their facial expressions were to die for. It is part of the Chinese culture and religion to pay homage or worship these bronze idols, and the term used to express worship or homage is (拜拜）and the English equivalent sound would be “bye”, so as it happened, I recalled the Nysnc song “Bye Bye Bye” and my creative and vast imagination cognising the humorous relations between the song and the people going 拜拜. It was silly funny. Hopefully, you can imagine the humour (and hopefully also appreciate it and not get offended).
In short, I feel that if it was a sunnier day and if I had stayed longer than a day in Hangzhou to really explore the city, I would have enjoyed it much more.
*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship