Cul­ture over­flow

Di­verse ex­pe­ri­ences em­anate from Xianghu’s rip­pling wa­ters, Xu Lin dis­cov­ers.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at xulin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Hangzhou’s Xianghu Lake is of­ten called West Lake’s “sis­ter”, and a visit to the rip­pling wa­ters can im­merse a visi­tor in the his­tory of Zhe­jiang prov­ince. >

Hangzhou’s Xianghu Lake is of­ten called West Lake’s “sis­ter”. Vis­it­ing the wa­ter body in­deed en­ables trav­el­ers to un­der­stand Zhe­jiang prov­ince’s his­tory.

Xianghu Lake Tourism Re­sort of­fers a per­fect plat­form for this.

Vis­i­tors can en­joy cul­ture and leisure in scenic spots scat­tered along the banks, by foot or boat.

The Kuahuqiao Site Mu­seum hosts an 8,000-year-old ca­noe and is shaped like one it­self. The ac­tual wa­ter­craft was re­paired with tree sap by its builders.

It also houses pot­tery and pre­his­toric stone, bone and wooden ar­ti­facts.

Kuahuqiao cul­ture’s dis­cov­ery pushed the known his­tory of Zhe­jiang’s civ­i­liza­tion to eight mil­len­nia ago, 1,000 years ear­lier than pre­vi­ously be­lieved.

The ex­hi­bi­tion room is in the orig­i­nal site — be­neath Xianghu Lake’s sur­face.

Ma­chines mon­i­tor hu­mid­ity, which is high given the lo­ca­tion, and cracks in the ca­noe.

“It’s tricky to prevent threats like mold and micro­organ­isms,” cu­ra­tor Wu Jian says.

There’s no prece­dent for such preser­va­tion, he says.

The mu­seum is next to Hangzhou Po­lar Ocean Park, which boasts 18 an­i­mal and 1,000 fish species.

Dol­phins dance and sing, and a breeder dances with a leop­ard shark at the daily shows.

The main char­ac­ters of Find­ing Nemo and Find­ing Dory are rep­re­sented — clown­fish, royal blue tang fish and hump­backs.

If you’re lucky, you can spot a shark’s tooth at the bot­tom of aquar­i­ums, as they re­place their teeth through­out their lives. Look­ing up in the arch tun­nel, you may see a leop­ard shark rest­ing on its belly since they’re noc­tur­nal.

Vis­i­tors of­ten con­fuse lan­guid pen­guins for stat­ues — un­til they move.

The Snow Vil­lage Room en­ables guests to experience po­lar tem­per­a­tures with the ben­e­fit of thick coats dis­trib­uted at the en­trances.

The park’s mas­cots, in­clud­ing a tur­tle and a po­lar bear, are ren­dered as ice sculp­tures en­joy­ing a birth­day party at the beach with fruit and desserts.

It also of­fers bumper cars and ice slides.

Nearby, Hangzhou Ori­en­tal Cul­ture Garden hosts tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture in­flu­enced by Con­fu­cian­ism, Bud­dhism and Tao­ism.

The 800-year-old Yangqi Tem­ple was re­built on its orig­i­nal site and today draws many Bud­dhists.

Near the en­trance, a rock­ery, in­side a foun­tain that splashes to re­li­gious mu­sic, serves as the pedestal for a statue of Guanyin (God­dess of Mercy), who pours holy wa­ter from a jar — and dis­ap­pears when the song stops.

The beams and ceil­ing of roughly 2,700-me­ter cor­ri­dor run­ning through the garden is dec­o­rated with or­nate paintings. Mo­tifs in­clude West Lake scenery and ref­er­ences to Jour­ney to the West, one of China’s four most-cel­e­brated lit­er­ary works.

The garden will host a Xi Shi stage show with an ac­tual moun­tain and river as the back­ground in Novem­ber.

Its name­sake pro­tag­o­nist — one of the “four beau­ties” of Chi­nese his­tory — was given as trib­ute to the king of Wu by the newly sub­ju­gated Yue king­dom in the Spring and Au­tumn Pe­riod (770-476 BC). The goal was to dis­tract him from state af­fairs so Yue could rise up and re­claim in­de­pen­dence. It worked.

“It’s about love, kin­ship and the pur­suit of peace,” chief plan­ner and screen­writer Xie Guo­quan says.

“The plot in­te­grates folk cul­ture with nat­u­ral scenery to touch au­di­ences.”

The show fea­tures about 300 per­form­ers.

Spe­cial ef­fects en­dow ob­jects with hu­man emo­tions, he says.

For in­stance, snowflakes fall and trees turn white when Xi Shi’s par­ents es­cort her to the Wu palace.

Mother Na­ture uses nat­u­ral ef­fects to change the en­tire lake area’s scenery through­out the year in ways that have in­spired vis­it­ing po­ets to pen prose.

The wa­ter body is ringed by a roughly 15-kilo­me­ter cy­cling lane with bike rental and rest­ing places. Two stone path­ways curl up the sur­round­ing moun­tains.

A to­tal of 108 bridges of dif­fer­ent styles and from dif­fer­ent eras show­case the his­tory of lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture. (Some are orig­i­nal and oth­ers are repli­cas.)

The lake it­self was re­cently re­stored to its orig­i­nal gourd shape and ex­panded to the 6-sq-km size of an­cient times.

Xianghu Lake Tourism Re­sort Work­ing Com­mit­tee head Han Changlai says: “We hope to at­tract vis­i­tors to en­joy the cul­ture, nat­u­ral land­scapes and good air.”

PHOTOS BY XU LIN / CHINA DAILY AND PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Top: Hangzhou’s Xianghu Lake fea­tures cul­ture and nat­u­ral land­scapes, and is con­sid­ered West Lake’s “sis­ter”. Above left: Tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture at Hangzhou Ori­en­tal Cul­ture Garden. Above right: White whales dance at the daily shows at Hangzhou Po­lar Ocean Park.

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