Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hangzhou: West Lake & More

This morning, we headed to one last iconic place in Suzhou before leaving the province - a silk factory.  Suzhou Kaidi Silk Co. Ltd is a recognized and properly certified silk factory, so you can be rest assured that you are getting quality goods for your dollar.  As with entering any factory-type place which tours tend to love to bring you to, I had the mindset that this was going to be just another tourist trap.  Once in the silk factory, it was easy to see that the most popular products being touted were bedding products - several vacuum-packed bags of quilts and bed paddings lay ready on the sales floor for the taking.  Despite the somewhat honest sales pitch from our tour guide, I was only drawn in to make my purchases after hearing the rave reviews from current users of the same quilt in my tour group (Facebook effect at work!).

Paparrazi shot of the silk making process in the factory! Ssshh!
As a 4-month old user of the quilt, I've not regretted the purchase and might even go so far as to say it is one of my best purchases ever.  I was using a part-feather quilt before this and it simply pales in comparison.  The silk quilt is so light and comforting, you almost feel like the silk worms in their cocoons.  Just how awesome is this quilt?  Let's just say that if there is an emergency which renders me little time to grab important things from my room and flee for safety, this quilt is gonna be amongst those things - that is how awesome this quilt is.
!! Tip:  For tropical weathered countries like Singapore, buy the lightest and biggest quilt available.  This is the most bang for buck.  Also, the silk quilt covers are extremely expensive and are more of a luxury, really.  Buy only if you are able to spend that much on a piece of cloth without batting an eyelid.  I'm using a normal cotton quilt cover and the quilt still feels like a charm.

The journey from Suzhou to Hangzhou by bus takes about 2 hours+ with a rest stop available along the way.

Once a flourishing educational institute, the WanSong Academy is the only cultural park around the West Lake.  Myths/legends suggest that this was also where the famed lovers Liang Shan Bo and Zhu Ying Tai studied, making the Academy a popular location for holding match-making events for single graduates.

Miniature sculptures of the Academy back in its hey day.
Lucky/wish charms, mostly hung by students wishing to do well.

Love the tiled roofs and pagoda architecture abound.

Location:  位于凤凰山上北万松岭上 / Eastern side of the Phoenix Mountain
Entrance Fee:  10 Yuan (~1.50 USD)
Opening Hours:  7:30 AM - 5:30 PM

A national hero who is known to have fought fiercely and loyally for his country, General Yue Fei was murdered in prison, and the masterminds/accomplices of this heinous act kneel forever, cast in iron, before the graves of Yue Fei and his son.  Traditionally, visitors to the grave sit spat on the casts of these traitors in disgust, but the statues seemed quite clean while I was there (but I would not suggest touching the statues either), and I did not see anyone spitting.  Perhaps the act has been outlawed for hygiene concerns? :P
"Return me my rivers and mountains"
Repay the nation with loyalty.

Location: 北山路80号 / 80 Beishan Lu (Zhejiang province)
Entrance Fee: 25 Yuan (~3.80 USD)
Opening Hours: 6:00 AM - 6:30 PM

Brainchild of famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou, Impression Westlake is an absolute must see while you're in Hangzhou.  The show brilliantly utilizes the Westlake itself as a stage, and both the musical and visual aspects of the show are stunning.  If you go during the colder months, be sure to dress warmly as it can get quite chilly and you wouldn't want to be shivering in your seat for an hour.

Impression Westlake - Where's the stage? ;)
You have to be there to be even more amazed!

Location:  Across the road from the General Yue Fei Mausoleum
Ticket Prices:  For normal seating, the price is 300 yuan per person; for VIP stand, the price per person is 450 yuan per person and for the grand stand, the price is 600 yuan per person (with credits to
Showtimes:  1st show 7:45 PM - 8:45 PM / 2nd show 9:15 PM - 10:15 PM
Official Web Site:

!! Tip:  Deciphering your ticket for seating information if you can't read Chinese...
2010 Impression West Lake Ticket


Official Hotel Web Site here.
Raves:  Decent breakfast spread.
Rants:  No free WiFi anywhere within the hotel, but this seems to be the norm amongst most hotels in China, even with the 5* hotel which I stayed at in Shanghai!
Posted by dawn.wong on 11/11/2010 03:19:00 AM in , , , ,