Monday, we traveled 2.5 hours outside of center city Shanghai to Hongzhou to meet He Hai (our third and final Norman Girardot introduction) and visit West Lake. This area is stunning with the cityline on one side and mountains on the other surrounding a large lake. It’s incredibly peaceful, especially after so much time in the busy city of Shanghai.
We biked around West Lake a bit then stumbled upon an arts and crafts festival, finding some great souvenirs, before heading to eat lunch. Hai is a multidisciplinary artist and a professor. At lunch, he shared his work with us (he and Dafei, who we met in Beijing, work together as the Utopia Group), and of course we shared our work with him leading up to the Journey from the East project. It was an exciting and delicious lunch – so much easier to order food when someone else is doing it for you and picking out the right thing. Hai and Jp shared a special pork dish named for the former governor of the town.
Highlights of the lake visit were the Red Carp Pond, which is an area so incredibly dense with red fish that it’s impossible to see anything but their ruby scales, and the Leifeng Pagoda, which to you Chinese folklore buffs is the place where Madam White Snake was held captive by Fahai. (If you haven’t heard of the Legend of the White Snake, you should check it out!)