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Archive for November, 2006

Hangzhou 杭州

Posted in Life in China, Travels on November 5th, 2006
Xihu sunset

During the National Holidays, I traveled to Shanghai and Hangzhou. I should have known that traveling during the National Holidays is nuts — imagine a holiday that has no tradition of barbeques, or family get-togethers, or presents; all people do on this week-long vacation is travel. Nearly 1.3 billion people simultaneously deciding to uproot themselves and sightsee. Absolutely brilliant.

Hangzhou especially was a frothing mass of humanity. The city is famed for its beautiful lakescapes, which have supposedly inspired emperors and poets alike. My first vision of West Lake, however, was marred by a small child unabashedly leaning over and peeing into it.

One experience salvaged my impression of Hangzhou though. I wrote a story based on that one experience for my writing class. I’m quite proud of it, since it’s my first fully developed story in Chinese. To those who can’t read Chinese, it involves a hike in the hills above West Lake, a chance encounter with an elderly couple, and the lesson learned from a night of moon cake and tea on the eve of the Mid-Autumn Moon festival.

Interestingly, in discussing this assignment in class, our teacher brushed upon the topic of sensitive (敏感)subject matter. His suggestion to new writers: “Say whatever you want, but be extremely careful what you write down. Once you write something down, you can’t take it back.” In China, it seems, a slip of the pen is worse than a slip of the tounge.


West Lake on the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival.


刚到杭州的时候,我感到有一些失望。人人都说杭州很漂亮,鼓舞了许多诗人和皇帝,但是我对杭州的第一个印象是讨厌。那时 是 国庆 节,所以观光客很多;想去西 湖散步也去不了,因为人太挤了。杭州的路也确实是一个瓶颈,交通拥堵问题特别严重。此外,在街上、湖上,到处有垃圾。杭州看起来很乱七八糟。



我问这个老爷爷怎么走出去。他意味深长地笑一笑,回答:“噢,我知道你在找什么。我们一起去吧。“ 我们跟着这对儿灵活的老夫妇爬到山顶。从那个平静的山顶,我们可以看到整个西湖的热闹景象。城市的灯好像满天星斗的镜子。

老奶奶从她篮子里掏出一瓶子茶和一些月饼。虽然只有两个月饼,她说:“你们三个人好好儿吃吧!我们老头已经在这里过了好几个中秋节。现在你们也可以享受我们的故乡。“ 她说的话对我触动很大;虽然我们都是陌生人,我们都受到她的母爱。

我问她:“你们有孩子吗?“ 她仰头对着天说:”对啊,一个儿子,但是他很久以前到上海寻找更好的就业机会,现在不是加班 就是出 差,连跟我们一起吃顿饭也 没有时间。“ 老爷爷说:”我们两个不算是孤独的人,但是有时侯我们真怀念他。“ 这句话对我有深刻的印象。我想起来我的父母,我想起来我的奶奶,想起所 有的家人留在纽约。我认识到我也怀念他们。



The view above West Lake at night.