Apparently spring is the best time to visit this region as the blossom is out and the weather is normally (although conveniently not when I’m visiting), pleasantly warm and sunny. In old legends there are two best times to visit the lake, firstly during a sunny day when the colours are vibrant and the water is glistening, and secondly when a storm is brewing and the mist mutes the colours. As you can guess from my photos I witnessed the latter, however I kept telling myself that the weather added mystery to the photos and that during a sunny day the photos might turn out too cliché and desktop-background-esque (people will say anything to themselves in the pouring rain and freezing cold!)
After my serene visit I had a polar opposite experience as I went into downtown Hangzhou to visit He Fang Ancient Street. This tourist hotspot is well known amongst locals as the “place to buy souvenirs for the people you hate!” Good old Chinese humour. And whilst that explanation was a lot to live up to, I found the street quite endearing, although this could be the typical first-time-in-china tourist’s approach. The street sells everything, with shops ranging from sexy silk nightdresses, to traditional Chinese tea mugs, many a tea emporium, herbal remedy stores with hidden gardens behind and even a stall selling rubber chickens whose purpose I am still yet to figure out.
Whilst resisting the temptation to pick up souvenirs for my enemies (sisters count yourselves lucky…) I did find a tiny section at the back of an ethnic style store in which they were selling old matchboxes, and these decorated beauties were irresistible. Especially when priced at 6yen, which is the equivalent of around 67p!