March 15th 2016, Hangzhou, China
We reached in the afternoon and checked in at the lakeside hotel, looking like a mountain resort. Not tall buildings, maximum 3 floors, big green spaces, relaxed atmosphere and clean fresh air.
However, once you step out of the hotel gardens doors, on the main roads, you really understand the purpose of those masks the Asian wear. Literally, I have sand/dust/soil on my face and lips and I need to cover my nose to breathe. So polluted that my eyes are filled with the stuff. Such a contrast.
This area is a relaxation areas, with hotels and lakes. No much activities to do other than look at the mirror of the lake, at the peace of the sky, away from the pollution down the street and eat some Chinese food and drink wine or very light Chinese beer.
We get into discussions about conspiracy theory and aviation, media manipulation and other almost spiritual issues with the German pilot. I find out from him about Udo Ulfkotte, a German journalist who wrote a book called “Bought Journalists” in which he tells how journalists would take a canister of gasoline and light it to pretend they were transmitting from the war zones, although they were in safe areas.
Oh well, what caught my attention was his theory that people start having vision issues when they don’t want to see the world around them. As a psychological issue, as a battle to what they don’t like in their life. Made me think about it a lot. I started having my issues when I was around 15. Very interesting discussions by the glasses of white wine and a very intelligent person.
March 16th 2016, Hangzhou, China
We’re ready to go to West Lake, but since early morning I feel we’re not going to make it. I’m with O. from Serbia, whom I just met, but feel close to her, as to a cousin.
Walking down Xiang Lake Road, through the terrible pollution I was telling you about, you reach a beautiful Chinese Gate decorated with dragons, right in the middle of a small park, by the lake. There are not many people around. On the left, a high hill covered in trees and with a pagoda. Right under the hill, a river and a chain of houses by the lake. From the road where we are to the houses there are fields that grow rice and vegetables in this extreme pollution and dust.
This looks like a Palace, but it’s actually a restaurant and we pick a huge table by the lake, in the interior yard. The waiter comes to take us and we think because we are just two. We try to explain we want outside, but he insists, so we go. He takes us to the place where you order, where the food is made. So clean and well organized. The plateaus already arranged, the soups with all the ingredients at view, pictures for all types of food, the fresh vegetables and salads being watered continuously to remain ultra-fresh and a selection of fish and seafood that looks literally like an aquarium. It’s a museum inside the restaurant, you can forget you are picking your food.
We ordered and without any English he brought exactly what we asked for, even the Jasmine tea with goji and complementary cherry tomatoes, grapes, American peanuts and sunflower seeds. Some shrimp and some snails and other weird stuff I like or want to try.
I pause this to check my email and I have just received a complimentary letter for this flight. Wee!
Xianghu Lake and its surroundings are lovely, a vast park with music playing from speakers hidden between the cherry blossom trees. Such a peaceful afternoon and O. and I talk about different things, about life, joking that we are like old people in a Sunday relaxing afternoon.
Besides, we laugh at the announcements by the lake and in the hotel. First was in the bathroom saying “Beware of the slippery”. Who’s the slippery? Now it’s written “Depth of Xianghu lake water be safe”. Probably it’s deep? Last one: “No littering here beautiful Xianghu Lake”.
We went back by the chain of houses at the basis of the hill, a place that looks quite strange, right by the very dirty water river, which does not prevent the old ladies to wash the vegetables and salads in it. Oh, and one more detail, the salad grows in the 30 cm wide soil band between the 3 meters fences of the houses and the street itself and it’s covered in dust and soil and the pollution stuff raised by the expensive cars driving around. This small community looks like the ones of criminals hiding their families here. Very tall fences, no men around, very expensive cars, only some old women preparing to cook and some kids. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m right.
Oh, I love the three seats bicycles at the hotel and the red ribbons with Chinese coins hanging from the trees with small pink flowers growing directly from the branches for the recent Chinese New Year. The hot air balloon in the garden of the hotel and the very twisted branches of one tree. Just like my thoughts. The cooks with their white hats walking around, the trees with huge pink flowers with countless petals, the reflection of the chain of houses in the nearby river, the pagoda up on the hill…