雷峰塔/Leifeng Ta/Leifeng Pagoda
First stop of the day is a trip to Leifeng Pagoda (雷峰塔), a famous tourist attraction in Hangzhou made popular by the Legend of Madame White Snake (白蛇传).
The legend tells a tale of a female white snake demon, Bai Suzhen (白素貞) who dreams of transforming into a goddess by doing good deeds so she takes on human form and goes to the human realm. There she meets a green snake demon, Xiao Qing (小青), who causes disasters in the area she lived. Bai Suzhen holds her captive at the bottom of a lake, though she promises the green snake that she'll come back in three hundred years to free her.
After three hundred years she keeps her promise and frees her then bond as sisters. They meet a sorcerer called Fa Hai (法海)who believes that every demon should be destroyed but Bai Suzhen was too powerful and he can't eliminate her immediately so he vows that he will if he sees them again.
Fearing that they would meet more human sorcerers, Bai Suzhen and Xiao Qing retreat into the world between demon and human world called Ban Bu Duo where they try to do good things by bringing rain to places that hasn't had any water for three years. But Xiao Qing was careless and almost flooded the whole town. Because of this, Bai Suzhen sadly loses her chance of becoming a goddess. However, Guan Yin informs her that she may have yet another opportunity.
In the meantime, Bai Suzhen and Xiao Qing accidentally brought a scholar Xu Xian (许仙) and his friend to the demon world. Bai protected them from demons and in the process fell in love with Xu Xian. After the battle with the Leader of the underworld, Xu Xian confesses his feelings for Bai Suzhen, claiming that it was love at first sight. They then got married, opened a medicine shop and lived happily.
But as demons and humans are not supposed to join, the town was struck by a plague and it was soon on the verge of total destruction. Bai Suzhen, Xiao Qing and Fa Hai finally agreed to a truce and obtained the magical herb needed to help the population.
Later Bai gets pregnant, but Fa Hai continues to try to eliminate her and Xiao Qing.
On the fifth day of the fifth month, the Dragon Boat Festival is held. On that day, demons revert to their true selves. Bai Suzhen thus decides to take Xiao Qing and Xu Xian back to Ban Bu Duo, but Xu Xian falls for FaHai's tricks and Bai Suzhen shows her true self, scaring Xu Xian literally to death. Bai Suzhen retrieves the herbal medicine which brings Xu Xian back to life.
But after giving birth to a son Bai Suzhen can't control herself anymore and is forced to tell her husband the truth about her origins. Xu Xian kindly accepts her, but Fa Hai then attacks the weakened Bai Suzhen and holds her to eternal captivity in the Leifeng Pagoda.
Leifeng Pagoda 雷峰塔
Before entering the Pagoda, there is a Release Pool (放生池) where people can do good deeds by releasing turtles and kois.
Release Pool 放生池
Cute little turtles lying in the sun
Intricate Stone Carvings
The original pagoda was built in 975 AD, during Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, at the order of King Qian Chu (born Qian Hongchu) of Wuyue to celebrate the birth of Qian Chu's son, The Leifeng Pagoda was an octagonal, five-story structure built of brick and wood and with a base built out of bricks.
During the Ming dynasty, Japanese pirates attacked Hangzhou. Suspecting the pagoda contained weapons, they burned its wooden elements, leaving only the brick skeleton.
Later, due to a superstition that bricks from the tower could repel illness or prevent miscarriage, many people stole bricks from the tower to grind into powder. On the afternoon of September 25, 1924, the pagoda finally collapsed due to disrepair.
In October 1999, the provincial and municipal governments decided to rebuild Leifeng Pagoda over the ruins of the old one. The new pagoda opened on 25 October 2002.
The Ruins of the Old Pagoda
View from looking out the Pagoda
View from looking out the Pagoda
Amazing Wood Carvings telling the Legend of Madame White Snake
This carving shows the separation of Bai Suzhen and her husband and her new born son when Fa Hai keeps Bai Suzhen captive under the Leifeng Pagoda.
Oh we so sexy
西湖/Xi Hu/West Lake
Broken Bridge 断桥
This is the place where Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian first meet. During Winter, the sun comes out after snowfall and the snow on the sunny side of the bridge melts first while the snow on the shady side still lingers. If looked at a distance or from a nearby hill, the bridge appears to be broken thus the name Broken Bridge.
Beautiful Lotus Flowers during Summer (piccies courtesy of Erin)
I love Hangzhou (piccies courtesy of Erin)
Lunch at Biliantian Restaurant 碧连天酒楼 which is just located across the street from the West Lake.
We ordered Hangzhou specialty dishes to taste the local flavours.
Beggar Chicken 叫化鸡 ￥38 (approx $5.92) - Exchange rate based on xe.com 27 Sept 2010 at 1 : 6.41
The name Beggar Chicken came from a story where a beggar stole a chicken but had no stove to cook it, so he wrapped the chicken with clay and put it on an open fire. When the clay is cooked dry, the beggar removed the clay off the chicken when he noticed the clay was stuck to the chicken's feathers and the meat was juicy and tenderly cooked. Hence the name and the method was passed down for everyone to enjoy.
Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea 龙井虾仁 ￥68 (approx $10.59)
West Lake Fish in Vinegar Sauce 西湖醋鱼 ￥42 (approx $6.54)
Qianjiang Pork Strips 钱江肉丝 ￥35 (approx $5.45)
Salty Meat and Spring Bamboo in Clay Pot 咸肉春笋煲 ￥35 (approx $5.45)
After our meal, we hired a boat and rower and spent our afternoon in the beautiful West Lake. The boat hire and rower costed ￥88 (approx $13.71) for a half an hour ride. It was shared amongst 3 people which I think is a bargain.
The Tranquil West Lake 西湖
The weather was so hot that after 15 minutes of rowing, the rower was huffing and puffing with his face all red. We kinda felt sorry for him but he has to row us back or we will be stuck in the middle of the lake!
Even though we are under a bamboo shade and the temperature was cooler on the lake front, it was still suffocatingly hot. We are so glad he rowed us right in front of Starbucks and all screamed in excitement as we ran inside for some much needed cooling down under the air conditioning.
Green Tea Frappuccino ￥33 (approx $5.18) WTF so expensive!
Blueberry Cheesecake ￥22 (approx $3.43)
After a rest hiding inside Starbucks, we walked along the West Lake. I noticed some shops was selling lotus buds. I thought it was tourist souvies but turned out they were for eating!
Lotus Buds ￥5 each (approx $0.78) or ￥10 for 3 (approx $1.56)
I asked the shop owner on how it is eaten and he said to pop the seeds out and eat it. Well DUH! I knew that. Lotus seeds is a known Chinese herbal medicine to aid in sleeping problems, protects the kidneys, spleen and heart, memory loss, lowers blood pressure, lowers stomach bloating and constipation. It's like some magical seed but he said I could eat it raw?! I have only ever eaten them in a dried form, never fresh nor raw so I wasn't sure if he was telling me the truth or not.
Maybe he noticed my suspicions so he broke it open and ate one in front of me. I am tempted to try it but scared that it would not taste nice since the dried form has a slight bitter taste so I only bought one and shared it between the 3 of us.
Inside a Lotus Bud
Peel off the delicate skin and eat the seed 新鲜莲子
The seed is in the shape and size of a peanut but tastes different. It has a light scent of grass and tastes like an avocado but with a slight crunch.
We tried to catch a taxi back but we are stuck as it was change over time. Argh. We had to get a motorised rickshaw (again) back to our hotel. Funny things happened and gave my leg a big bruise patch but the details is a secret between Natasha, Jennifer and me :P
Natasha and me cam whoring in our hotel rooms
After a nice shower and a change of clothes, we were resurrected from the deathfying heat. Had a spare moment before dinner time so we started cam whoring hoho :3
Dinner at Dahua Hotel 大华饭店
Opened its doors in 1936 and located on the waterside of the West Lake, this restaurant has been visited by many famous people like Chairman Mao (毛泽东) and Premier Zhou 周恩来.
We were seated in the Blue Wave Private Room 沿湖碧浪包厢 which has French windows that shows the beautiful view of the West Lake.
Blue Wave Private Room 沿湖碧浪包厢 (piccy from www.dh-hotel.com)
Red Wine that I forgot the name of :(
Chinese Pastry Duo 美点庆双辉
I'm not sure why it's called a pastry 'duo' since the other one is preserved vegetables rather than a pastry but I guess they used it due to its lucky and well wishing name.
Smoked Yellow Croaker Fish 大黄鱼
Northern and Southern Style Platter 南北风味碟
Stir Fried Wild Old Head Fungus and Australian Scallop in XO Sauce XO酱老人头菌炒澳带
Old Head Fungus is an extremely rare fungus that only grows scarcely at beyond 1500m above sea level. It is highly prized for its juicy texture and medicinal uses. I don't know how much this costed but I'm sure it's not cheap :/
Wild Duck, Bitter Melon and Dalian Abalone Soup 野鸭凉瓜大连鲍
Thai Curry Crab 泰式咖喱蟹
Chinese White Shrimp Accompanied with Red Crystal Shrimp 福酱对虾伴水晶虾
Signature Braised Beef Ribs 招牌牛肋骨
Fresh Hangzhou Lotus Roots with Flat Cabbage杭椒鲜藕海棠菜
Cloud Ear Fungus with Loofah in Soup 上汤云耳汇丝瓜
Pawpaw and Hasma Soup 木瓜雪蛤汤
A dessert soup that is known to have great benefits to girls and tastes great! The pawpaw soup has a fruity fragrant and silky smooth in texture. The hasma is like a soft transparent crystal that glides down ur mouth with ease. It is loved by all girls as it gives you a nice, healthy and dewy looking skin.
Crème caramel with Sweet Dumpling 焦糖布丁
Fruit Platter of Watermelon, Dragonfruit, Mango and Honeydew 一品水果
Awesome Banquet Menu 宴会菜谱
They made the Banquet menu into the shape of room dividers with a Chinese floral theme of plum flowers, orchids, bamboo and chrysanthemums 梅兰竹菊.
Biliantian Restaurant 碧连天酒楼
Location: 11 Beishan Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province 杭州市西湖区北山路11号
Phone: 0571 - 4007161717
Opening Hours: 9am - 9pm, 7days
Dahua Hotel 大华饭店
Location: 171 Nanshan Road, Xihu District, Hangzhou
City, Zhejiang Province 杭州市西湖景区南山路171号
Phone: 0571 - 87181888
Opening Hours: Lunch 11am - 2pm, Dinner 5:30pm - 8:30pm