Honeymooners can now add one more romantic destination to their list of global options, thanks to the new ‘open door policy’ and tourism campaign of Hangzhou, capital of China’s Zhejiang province.
A glass-like lake; a mass of cherry blossoms on flowering trees; pagodas and skyscrapers; glowing lanterns, and a pleasant subtropical climate, all contribute to the impression of Hangzhou as being synonymous with romance.
Hangzhou is also the setting of “The Butterfly Lovers,” one of China’s most popular folk tales – the story of star-crossed lovers Shanbu and Yingtai, whose tragic story is reminiscent of “Romeo and Juliet.”
Hangzhou’s signature feature is the magical West Lake, a willow tree-bordered UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, the lyrical beauty of which has captivated poets and painters for more than a thousand years. Studded with islands, causeways, pagodas, gardens and willow trees, the lake is considered a paradigm of harmony, and has inspired ten poetically-named Scenic Sites, one of which, “Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon,” is printed on Chinese currency. Couples can canoe on the lake or ply the Grand Canal, the world’s longest man-made waterway.
Newlyweds and romantically include couples are invited to enjoy the time-honoured ritual of the tea ceremony or pick tea leaves from fragrant fields of Longjing (Dragon Well), a variety of hand-produced green tea renowned for its quality. For added interest, there are many festivals held throughout the year, from West Lake Expo to the Lantern Festival to Qiantang Tide-Watching Festival – where waves surge to 25 feet high and look like “ten thousand horses galloping ahead.”
Admittance to the National Silk Museum is free and this is the world’s largest and most impressive. Indeed, it was the Chinese who invented silk-making some 5000 years ago. The legend goes that a Chinese princess was sipping tea in her garden when a cocoon from a mulberry tree plopped into her cup. As she plucked it out, it unreeled into one long filament.In addition to the Silk Museum, Hangzhou boasts 56 other museums, plus 14 public libraries containing 10 million books; 13 cultural stations; 12 theatres; two mass art stations; two concert halls; and 24 sites protecting cultural relics… Those who cannot find anything to do will have to live on love alone.