So I’m taking a bit of a career break at the moment and living in Hangzhou, China for a few months to study Chinese. Last weekend one of my Chinese friends came to visit so we did a few of the local tourist attractions. Actually I’ve been to Hangzhou once before back in 2016, but that time unfortunately coincided with a G20 summit and it was soo crowded so I just walked round the lake and left.

Leifang pagoda

The first stop is Leifang pagoda 雷峰塔. The original pagoda was built in 975. It was damaged and then totally collapsed in 1924, but was then later rebuilt in 2002. Underneath the new pagoda is an exhibition on the reconstruction, and you can see the remains of the originally foundations. I’m actually a big fan of rebuilding ruined historic sites, as long as it’s done in keeping with the original building, and I wish we did more of it in the UK. How much more interesting a tourist attraction would Pontefract castle be if they rebuilt it in the original style?

Buddhist carving

On Sunday we went to “Lingying scenic area”. I love a good “scenic area”, and this one is based around Lingyin temple 灵隐寺, one of the largest and reputedly wealthiest Buddhist temples in China. There’s a small rocky area with a number of ancient stone carvings, and lots of temple buildings, one of them containing an impressively large Buddha statue. I tried doing the praying-with-burning-incense-sticks thing and nearly set my fingers on on fire, possibly a bad omen.

Lingyin temple

Behind the temple is Feilai peak 飞来峰, the highest mountain in the surrounding area. From the temple you can climb up some steps to the viewing platform at the top and then take the cable car back down. I love how the Chinese word for cable car 缆车 has exactly the same pronunciation as 懒车 “lazy car”. Very appropriate.