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Hangzhou and Beyond

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hile Hangzhou in Zhejiang province is one of the most visited places in the whole of China, its main attraction – West Lake – is so vast that you always somehow feel you have the whole place to yourself. The city sprawls along the eastern shore of the Lake almost as an afterthought – but this is no ordinary afterthought! When the famous merchant-explorer Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the 13th century, he referred to the city as “beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world”. Hangzhou city pleases all the senses at once. Come nightfall, the shores of the Lake become a fairyland of lights. To stroll the lakeshore, with its pavilions, gardens and constantly changing water views, is one of life’s finest pleasures. And towering over West Lake overlooking the Qian Tang River, the Liuhe (‘Six Harmonies’) Pagoda, a striking octagonal structure built in the 10th century, dominates the skyline both by day and at night The 12th century abbot of Liuhe Pagoda, Zhi Tan, was renowned for his ‘boundless beneficence’. This beneficence extended to rebuilding the pagoda – and as a result, the abbot is commemorated by a bronze statue unveiled in 1995. The pagoda also serves as a lighthouse for riverboats, and its spiritual power is even said to protect against tsunamis – though it is certainly hoped that this latter claim will never be put to the test. Hangzhou was founded as early as the seventh century and became one of China’s six ancient capital cities. Later it developed into a major Silk Road terminus. Ever since then, silkworm cultivation and silk brocade weaving have been the major drivers of development, with both domestic and international tourism now hot on the development agenda.

angzhou is famous for its Westlake ... a source of beauty and pleasure, of poetry and literature and civilised persuasions.

Ethiopian flies to Hangzhou, China 5 times a week.


Another good reason to come to Hangzhou is for its unique cuisine. As one of the eight classical culinary traditions of China, Zhejiang food revolves around seafood. In Hangzhou, various local ingredients, including bamboo shoots, are also widely used, with one of the most popular dishes being xihu cuyu (West Lake fish in vinegar). Other famous Hangzhou dishes include Dongpo Pork (with alternate layers of fatty and lean pork) and Beggar’s Chicken. One of the finest places to enjoy these specialties is at the 100 year-old Luwailo Restaurant, at 30 Gushan Road, Solitary Island (West Lake), tel +86 571 8799 7416. Or try Shan Wai Shan Restaurant (8 Yuquan Road, Hangzhou Botanical Garden, tel +86 571 8790 6621) for its house specialty, Jingpin Babao Yutou Wang (‘Eight Treasures of Fish-head Soup’) For shopping, a little-known part of town is Qing He Fang Precinct on Hefang Jie (near Wu Shan Square). The precinct contains many small shops dealing in traditional Hangzhou arts and crafts – such as paintings, silk products, animal horn combs, embroidery, etc. One of Hangzhou’s most distinctive cultural attractions is Yueju (Yue opera, taking its name from the ancient Yue State). The popular Yueju troupe Xiao Bai Hua is famous for its modern renditions of Yue classics including The Chalk Circle, The Orphan of Zhao and The Lute. Try to catch a performance while in Hangzhou. Hangzhou’s nightlife takes some beating. One of the most fun bars is Hong Feng Jiu Ba (formerly known as the BoYi Bar), at Yan An Nan Lu #24, close to Wu Shan Square. Hei Gen Jiu Ba (‘Reggae Bar’), at 95 Shu Guang Lu. Later in the night, Hangzhou rocks like a jelly in an earthquake, with Club Max and Club G Plus leading the action. The construction of Hangzhou’s new subway is set to make getting around the city a lot easier. Line One, nearly 50 kilometre long and with 30 stations, is scheduled to be opened by late 2011. Altogether, a total of eight lines are planned.

Hangzhou and Beyond


But for those eager to explore beyond Hangzhou, an excursion to Shanghai is more than just a journey through history. While Hangzhou is playing a delicate juggling game trying to balance development with the conservation of its fine natural treasures, Shanghai seems intent on maintaining its title of the fastestmorphing city on earth. In my own case, I was looking forward to investigating the stark contrast between these two cities. It’s possible to make the trip to Shanghai by railway (see sidebar). But for those with a little time, a road trip from Hangzhou to Shanghai is a far better option, as the sightseeing opportunities en route are just too good to miss. On the Shanghai road, Xiashi is a city transformed by high-rise development, with an attractive treebordered plaza mitigating the somewhat stark effect of the modern buildings towering over it. The city has long been renowned for its coloured lanterns. These are mainly made of rice paper, intricately decorated and fastened together with lead wires. But Xiashi is just a support act to the main star of the Hangzhou-Shanghai route – Wuzhen, on the Dong Shi River just off the Hangzhou-Beijing Grand Canal. Whether by accident or design, this town seems to have been dropped into its watery setting by a master town planner from another galaxy. When the authorities opened up the 1,300 year old river village of Wuzhen to visitors in 2001 they were determined to avoid the tacky mix of tourist restaurants and kitsch souvenir shops that has swamped other estuary towns such as Zhouzhuang (which also lies in the Yangtze River delta). Wuzhen’s old buildings, an architectural symphony of stone, wood and tiles, have been preserved rather than restored, and lovingly maintained rather than tarted up. The result is a place that is a sheer joy to explore on foot. No fewer than eight stone bridges cross the Dong Shi River, the grandest of them being the Fengyuan Double Bridge, separated into two parts by a wooden sluice gate. But now it’s from the sublime to the mundane. En route to Shanghai, the industrial city of Jiaxing is home to the world’s largest factory for fibre optic cables. Of much more interest to the average visitor, the ancient water town of Fengjing (about 40 kilometres north of Jiaxing) still buzzes with daily life. This 1,500 year-old town was the birthplace of the Jinshan genre of ‘Peasant Painting’, renowned for its innovative designs and bright colours. In Zhonghong town, 10 minutes drive from Fengjing, the Jinshan Peasant Painting Village has workshops where visitors can study the painting process in close-up detail. Leaving Fengjing, it’s a drive of about 30 kilometres to Songjiang, a town that has now nearly merged with that huge sprawling megalopolis known as ‘Greater Shanghai’. Songjiang recently celebrated its 1,250th anniversary, with its roots going back even further to the Tang Dynasty; a column engraved with texts of Tang-era Confucian classics is one of the cultural treasures of the city. Some startling developments are now in place in Songjiang, with palatial houses and lush gardens replacing its former industrial wastezones. Joining the road into Shanghai, it takes seemingly forever to reach the ever-widening perimeter of the city. To break the journey, I make a stop at the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao, so peaceful and evocative in its watery setting that in my mind I’m drawn all the way back to Hangzhou. It’s difficult to believe that Zhujiajiao has become a suburb of what is now possibly the world’s biggest city.

Ethiopian flies to Hangzhou, China 5 times a week.


And it doesn’t take long to discover that Shanghai has a huge amount of energy. The visitor feels captive to its spell. Now that Expo 2010 is over, getting in and out of Shanghai is not as difficult as it was during the Expo crowd-crush – but navigating the sardine-packed roads is still more than just a little bewildering. However there’s always a sublime escape possible – namely, straight back to Hangzhou!

Getting to Hangzhou Ethiopian Airlines flies regularly to Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH). The airport is about 30 kilometres from downtown Hangzhou. The new metro service should cut travel time between the city and the airport to well under 15 minutes.

Getting Out of Hangzhou Trains run nearly hourly from Hangzhou to Shanghai Railway Station, the trip taking between 45 minutes (for the super-fast express) to about three hours. From 2014, the trip will take less than half an hour, on the Hangzhou-Shanghai Maglev Train (with construction scheduled to start this year, 2011). The new train will reach speeds of 450 kilometres per hour, with the 170 kilometre trip from Hangzhou to Shanghai scheduled to take just 27 minutes.

Hangzhou and Beyond


The New Spirit of Africa Ethiopian Airlines (‘Ethiopian’) is the flag carrier of Ethiopia and one of the longest-running airlines in Africa. Founded more than 65 years ago, Ethiopian is recognized as one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in Africa for efficiency and operational success, turning profits for almost all the years of its existence. It commands a lion’s share of the pan-African network including the daily east-west flights across the continent. Operating at the forefront of technology, it has also become one of Ethiopia’s major companies. Ethiopian’s modern fleet serves more than 60 international destinations worldwide. To provide a wider choice of destinations for travelers, Ethiopian has entered into code share agreements with several international airlines. The airline has ordered the most modern, environmentally-friendly aircraft to meet the growing demand for increased capacity and ensure the comfort of its customers. The orders include ten 787 Dreamliners and ten 737-800s from the Boeing Company and twelve A350-900s from Airbus. Recognizing cargo as part of its core business, Ethiopian has established a state-of the-art cargo terminal with an annual capacity of 350,000 tons, positioning Addis as a regional hub. Ethiopian Cargo provides extensive services to customers in the export and import business. This is a pioneering endeavour by the airline to encourage and promote Africa’s export business to Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The Ethiopian Aviation Academy has become a powerful source for African aviation training. The Academy is committed to developing and providing a competent workforce for the airline and the wider aviation industry. The Academy runs training and development programmes for pilots, cabin crew and technicians, and conducts comprehensive courses in marketing, finance as well as leadership management. Ethiopian’s Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility is recognized as one of the finest aircraft engine and components maintenance and overhaul centres in Africa and the Middle East, meeting approval standards of Ethiopian Civil Aviation and the US Federal Aviation Administration. Ethiopian’s membership was accepted by Star Alliance, the leading global airline network in 2010. The membership requires compliance with the highest industry standards of customer service, security and technical infrastructure. Ethiopian will be a fully-fledged member of Star Alliance before the end of 2011.

Ethiopian flies to Hangzhou, China 5 times a week.


Ethiopian recently formulated a 15-year strategic plan, dubbed “Vision 2025”, to transform itself into an aviation group that provides world class services to its customers. The core of the strategic plan is to become the most competitive and leading aviation group in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines regularly receives accolades from the travel industry, and continues to upgrade its services and products to meet international standards and, more specifically, the needs of its customers. At present, it operates one of the most up-to-date fleets in the world. It is, indeed, Africa’s World Class Airline – the New Spirit of Africa!

Hangzhou and Beyond


CELEBRATING

65 YEARS WITH FLYING COLORS

With its maiden flight to Cairo on April 08, 1946, Africa’s oldest and most reputable airline was born. Over the decades the airline has made tremendous progress in all aspects thereby taking customer safety and comfort to a higher level. With its unparalleled route network covering the width and breadth of Africa, it has lived its motto “Bringing Africa Together” and further raised the bar by modifying this motto to “Connecting Africa to the world.” Today with over 60 destinations, state of the art technology, and a friendly service, the management and staff of Ethiopian Airlines have once again confirmed their leading position in African aviation. Ethiopian’s immeasurable contribution to the development of aviation in the continent makes it a beacon of success for all to look up to. VISIT US AT

www.ethiopianairlines.com FOR CONVENIENT BOOKINGS.

CONTACT YOUR TRAVEL AGENT, THE NEAREST ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES OFFICE OR THE ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CENTRAL RESERVATIONS OFFICE. EMAIL:

reservation@ethiopianairlines.com

Hangzhou and Beyond  

Hangzhou and Beyond angzhou is famous for its Westlake ... a source of beauty and pleasure, of poetry and literature and civilised persuasio...

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