Skip to content

Day 18 Hangzhou

June 18, 2011

June 13, 2011 (Monday)

Eighteenth day in China, third day in Hangzhou: 雷峰塔 Leifengta “Thunder Peak Pagoda”, 淨慈寺 Jingci Temple, 蘇堤 Su Causeway, 岳廟 Yue Fei Memorial

Ate fresh bread, an egg pancake and milk tea. Walked down to the edge of the West Lake at 清波門 Qingbo Gate and along the south shore. Chartered boats drifted by. Moored empty boats waited for passengers. Leifengta’s steep spire and curved eaves came into view, slipped behind a hill as I walked by the water. I bought a ticket, walked the stone steps beside the escalator, and entered the basement floor, where the foundations of the old Leifengta were on view (the original tower collapsed in the early 20th Century) glittering with coins tossed in by visitors. I got another view of the crumbled brick foundations from the next level, then ascended stone steps the foot of the tower, where a sign overhead in gold calligraphy read “雷峯塔”, or “Thunder Peak Pagoda.” The first floor had no walls, only thick round columns, flower motifs on the ceiling and an elevator. I climbed the stairs. On one floor were exquisite carved-wood panels illustrating the 白蛇傳 Legend of the White Snake, including 白素貞 Bai Suzhen (the white snake) descending into the realm of mortals, borrowing 許仙 Xu Xian’s umbrella, reverting to her true form during the Dragon Boat Festival, battling with the monk 法海 Fahai, imprisoned under Leifengta, and released and reunited with Xu Xian and her son 夢蛟 Mengjiao. I saw the West Lake, trees, city, roads and temples from each floor. Without rain or fog I could see the slender 蘇堤 Su Causeway shooting across the lake toward the slim and distant 保俶塔 Baochu Pagoda, opposite the squat 城隍閣 Chenghuang Tower sitting on 吳山 Wushan Hill. In a building beside the tower I saw treasures unearthed from the site. Sitting under the trees I drank Xihu Longjing green tea, the famed “West Lake Dragon Well” green tea grown around Longjing village, and saw the stele erected by (the ficticious) Mengjiao in honor of Bai Suzhen, his mother, after he ranked top-of-the-list in the imperial examinations. A statue of Xu Xian holding an umbrella and helping Bai into a boat stood by a pond near the gate.

I visited 淨慈寺 Jingci Temple across the street, then walked the Su Causeway (Sudi), a dike paved down the middle, making a beeline for the tomb of 岳飛 Yue Fei on the north shore. I crossed the various stone bridges along the Su, past a crowd of actors preparing for West Lake Impression and floating lotus gardens. Visited the Confucian temple with “日天昭心” written in gold over the door and “盡忠報國” in huge black stokes on the walls, full of colorful statues of heroes. Saw the mound of earth at Yue Fei’s tomb.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: