Hangzhou Global Tour: Day five

It dawned on me the other day that one of the reasons West Lake in Hangzhou is so special is that it is an urban lake…an oasis right in the middle of a major city. I can think of only a few places I’ve been to where I can recall a body of water in the middle of an urban area, Lake Washington in Seattle is one that comes to mind.

View of West Lake in Hangzhou by MikesRoadTrip.com

Over the past few days here in Hangzhou, I’ve had an opportunity to view different areas of West Lake, in many vantages. Today, I had the pleasure of seeing the lake, while being in the middle of it…and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. My group and I boarded a Chinese style gondola at Hungang Pier and set a drift by our Gondolier. Under clear skies and a shaded canopy, a lake-affect cool breeze brushed our skin and cleansed our souls in a peaceful journey across the lake.

gondolier on West Lake in Hangzhou by MikesRoadTrip.com

Along the way we saw the Leifeng Pagoda (later we would climb up and get a view of the lake) and the silhouette of White Snake (a small mountain bluff in the shape of a snake). Legend has it that in the lake, there is a white snake spirit who has been practicing Taoist magical arts in the hope of becoming immortal after centuries of training and cultivation.

Gondola on West Lake Hangzhou by MikesRoadTrip.com

While there was a lot activity on the lake, one thing I noticed was there were no swimmers or ski boats/jet skies. I can only assume the reason for this is to maintain a level of serenity with the lake. Something else I couldn’t help but notice was a massive Pogoda Dragon Boat at a dock. It was so ornate and beautiful…I can only image the impressive grandeur of seeing it sail across the lake. You’ll have to imagine what it might look like because I didn’t get a photo. Ugh. 🙂

After disembarking our gondola, we walked to the Leifeng Pagoda, a gigantic compound that beckons visitors to climb its many flights of stairs for breathtaking views of West Lake. This pagoda is actually quite new and was reconstructed in 2002, the original pagoda was over 1000 years old, but collapsed in 1924 after looters stole bricks from its base, compromising the structural integrity. The new version of the Leifeng Pagoda was built atop the same site and visitors can view the ruins that date back to 975 A.D.

Leifeng Pagoda by MikesRoadTrip.com for Hangzhou Global Tour

It’s amazing how when Americans go to Europe they realize how new their nation is. I can only guess that Europeans feel the same way when they visit China.

Leifeng Pagoda ruins

Our next stop was to the Yougfu Temple where we had lunch with some Buddhist Monks. This particular temple is part of an enormous compound that must span 100s of acres with paths that meander through its hillsides. This monastery is part of the Fayun Village and attracts a lot of visitors. I found the Yougfu Temple to be a lot less busy, allowing me to take in the spirituality that emanate from its pours. Gravity pulled running water down its hillside, leaving a tranquil sound in its path that lulled me into a sense of calm and well-being. Another extraordinary sight at this temple compound are the ancient carvings out of the stone mountainside…some date back over 1000 years.

Stone carvings at Yongfu Temple

Stay tuned for highlights from Day Six of this Global Tour in Hangzhou. Click here to read the previous day. Click here to read the next days’ highlights.

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.


  1. Mike,
    How tremendously thrilling it must be to tour the ancient lands of Hangzhou. It is rewarding to me to see it through your words.

    Having a quiet and restful time with your mother and Rick. I saw a bobcat with an animal clenched in his mouth go across the yard from the deck. I’m in wild country; Lanna saw a snake in the pool as we were swimming and guided me to the end of the pool without creating hysteria.

    Keep having fun.

    Jane e

    1. Hey Jane! Yes, it has been pretty thrilling indeed. Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you are having fun in AZ…sounds like some exciting wildlife. Thanks are crazy here, very fast pace…I have little time to do anything person, but will try and touch base later. Cheers!

  2. What a gorgeous lake, so serine and tranquil. I’d love to learn more about the Taoist magical arts… I’ve always been drawn to the zen characteristics of Eastern culture. The architecture and history you are sharing is amazing. Thanks Mike, I look forward to continue following your adventures in China and beyond. Your writing inspires me.

  3. Mike, thanks for your great articles. Indeed, Westlake is a little paradise on its own… 🙂 You mentioned ‘While there was a lot activity on the lake, one thing I noticed was there were no swimmers or ski boats/jet skies”…. Frequently I have seen the elderly swimming at a ‘side pool’ of the Westlake – mostly in the evening around 6 o’clock. No matter day or night, the elderly are truly active in Hangzhou 🙂

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