Hangzhou West Lake, China

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West Lake

The saying "In heaven there's paradise, on earth there are Hangzhou and Suzhou" is a synonym of Suzhou and Hangzhou, the two scenic spots at the south of the Yangtze River.

The reason why Hangzhou enjoys the great honor lies in the fact that it has West Lake.

West Lake once called "Upper Lake" in the ancient times, which meant that West Lake was a lake in heaven. Because it lay in the west of Hangzhou, later people called it "West Lake".

Because Hangzhou City was under the jurisdiction of Qiantang County, therefore West Lake also known as Qiantang Lake.

Over three-quarter of the lake are surrounded by hills, and then is Hangzhou City. This natural beauty scene covers a total area of 5.6 square kilometers, with a perimeter that extends 15 kilometers.

Su Causeway and Bai Causeway cut up the lake into five water bodies named respectively Inner Lake, Outer Lake, Yue Lake, West Back Lake, and North Back Lake.

West Lake gained a lasting charm for centuries. Even Bai Juyi, the great poet of Tang Dynasty, who lived in Hangzhou for a while, missed West Lake from time to time after he had moved away from the city. He wrote a famous poet:

"My soul can never get away from Hangzhou,
Half of the reason is regarding the lake."

The refined scholar in the ancient times successively sorted and depicted the different scenes in West Lake, among which the most known to the world are the "Ten Scenic Sights".

Those names originated from the titles given by a painter in Southern Song (1127~1279A.D.), on his paintings depicting the lake. They are: "The Su Causeway in the Spring", "Orioles Singing in the Willow", "Lingering Snows on the Broken Bridge", "Moon reflects in the Ponds", "Autumn Moon on Calm Lake Pavilion", "Lotus in the Wind of Crooking Yard", "Watching Fish at Flower Harbor", "Bell at Nanping Dusk", "Peaks in the Cloud", and "Sunset on Mt. Thunder".

The names of these ten scenic spots in Chinese could be put in to ten words, one word for each scenic spot, which is very interesting. These words then can be combined as: "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Flower, Night, Cloud, Sunset, Moon, and Willow".

It means the West Lake scenery is always magnificent and beautiful year round. The ten scenic spots not only fill West Lake with a quality subject of poetry or painting, but also enchant us to forget about home.

The beautiful West Lake inevitably has many touching legends. It is said that long time ago, Jade Dragon and Golden Phoenix in the heaven found a piece of high quality white jade on a fairyland by the Silver River. For many years' persistent effort, they made it a radiant bright jade ball.

Wherever the jade ball shone, there would be green trees and blossoming flowers. When this news came to the empress's ear, she ordered the guard to take out of the jade ball. When Jade Dragon and Golden Phoenix came to ask for the jade ball back, a fierce fight broke out. Golden Phoenix won the jade ball at last.

Later, the jade ball was drop on to the earth without care, which became the transparent clean West Lake and Phoenix Mountain. After that, Phoenix Mountain guarded West Lake beside her forever.