Where We Be
Lovely willows and flowering trees overhang the borders of West Lake in Hangzhou
West Lake -- Hangzhou, China
Hangzhou's West Lake is a hugely popular draw
with Chinese tourists in particular. The lake has
had a significant influence on Asian poets and
painters through the centuries because of its
combination of natural beauty with man-made
temples, pagodas, and gardens. During a
romantic evening stroll along the lakefront, we
fall in love with the place a little bit ourselves.
The hillside across from us is luminous with
green lights, the willow trees lining the lake are
softly lit from below, and the plum, peach, and
cherry trees are in full bloom. Young couples
sit on benches or stroll hand in hand. We agree
we could easily live here for a time in one of
the lovely apartments across from the lake.

When we return the next morning it's drizzling.
We board a ship with a dragon prow and head
out for a 45-minute tour of the lake. Gray and
misty aren't necessarily considered bad here --
it's what most of the famous scroll paintings of
the lake depict. We see many Chinese families
in oared boats spending a leisurely day on the
lake, traveling from island to island, drinking
tea, and playing cards in between sights.
Many Chinese tourists spend the day leisurely touring the famous lake on oared boats like these
After our boat tour, the rain really starts to pour, resulting in a sea of colorful umbrellas along the crowded path. Our
tour guide warned us ahead of time West Lake would be packed with Chinese tourists on this Sunday in springtime.
The rain stops long enough for us to take a pleasant stroll through a beautiful garden next to West Lake
It seems as if every tree and flower is in bloom, a definite advantage of visiting China in April
Bamboo latticework frames this image of a mom sharing a special moment with her daughter
My favorite image of the day: a lone canoe moored in a green bend of the lake
The Chinese seem to have a knack for combining natural and man-made beauty into small but pleasing packages