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Asia

HANGZHOU

HANGZHOU

Our third city in China became a solid favorite. Not hard to understand why Marco Polo called it the “finest and most splendid city in the world” (at the time). We arrived in Hangzhou with little knowledge and no expectations and left with fond memories of boat rides, garden walks, forest hikes and ice cream. We spent the majority of our time exploring West Lake, a large, central area ringed by the city’s diverse boroughs ...

PINGJIANG LU

PINGJIANG LU

Suzhou allowed us to finally sleep late. Pingjiang Lodge was as tight as a drum, its 400-year-old walls keeping us well insulated from street noise. We relished the quiet ritual of morning—reading books as the tea steeped, listening to the workers sweeping the large stone breezeways below with bamboo whisks. Hunger finally nudged us out the door and we passed through the lantern-lit hallways and stepped out of the inn’s wooden gates, into the cool morning air…  

HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR'S GARDEN

HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR'S GARDEN

We had heard tell of the beauty ensconced within the Humble Administrator’s Garden and were anxious to see it for ourselves. The throng outside the gates seemed to indicate that there was something special inside. A small army of tourists milled in sunhats and facemasks, their leader barking into a headset and waving her South Korean Flag in the air like a lasso as she attempted to herd them into something resembling a line. We pushed politely through their ranks and went to the ticket booth. The cost was 90 RMB ($15 USD) per person (double that of Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai), but once we were inside the gates, we could understand why ...

XIANGMEN

XIANGMEN

One day, our wanderings found us at the foot of Xiangmen, one of the gates of Suzhou’s ancient city wall. A restored vestige of the past, Xiangmen houses the Suzhou City Wall Museum (fairly comprehensive, even if you don’t read or speak Chinese!) as well as an inviting green space for recreation ...

SHANGHAI

SHANGHAI

Shanghai is at once ancient, arcane and mind-bendingly modern. We wandered contentedly for days in its mesmerizing grid–gradually becoming attuned to the concert of horns, hawkers and the snap of sea air tinged with the fragrance of every type of meat-on-a-stick known to man. We came, we saw, but we will never fully conquer this vast, intriguing city. We heart Shanghai ...