Tuesday was a big day. We had tickets to see a Chinese opera called ‘Views of Hangzhou’ on West Lake which is actually performed over a section of the lake.
First we biked over to the shore of West Lake and got brunch at a coffee shop called Xiexie (Thank you) and loitered over books and coffee. From there we cycled south to the China silk museum, also located within Xihu park.
The museum detailed the silk road trade and displayed old silks as well as the silk cultivating, weaving and dyeing process. The grounds were beautiful and serene. We had them nearly to ourselves even though it was National Week.
We grabbed lunch at The Lakeside Veggie, a vegetarian restaurant on one of the little islands in Xihu park which also was surprisingly empty. I’m guessing it was so quiet because it was around 3 and the Chinese believe that that’s too late for lunch and too early for dinner to the point where they think that it can make you sick to eat at the wrong times!
We had preserved lotus roots, vegetable curry and another great eggplant dish with rice and tea. Everything was simple yet flavorful, light without being boring. Our table overlooked an inlet of the lake from which we could hear and see the crowds but were just far enough removed from them.
We checked out another free museum in the park after lunch, the Xihu lake museum which covered the history of the park and lake. We sat and read and planned for the next day in Nanjing as the sun went down and the first set of the night of views of Hangzhou began.
Something I didn’t expect about the performance is that the audience didn’t immediately fall silent at the beginning! They continued taking pictures despite signs saying not too and chatted among themselves as the performers took the stage! I’d been told that it’s common here to talk during movies but I didn’t expect this. There was a small compensation in that the music started very loudly and sort of drowned out people’s conversations!
The performance was amazing. It was mostly a string of beautiful people in fancy clothes floating out in front of the stands on little boats while playing instruments or singing opera. In the background there were something like 200 dancers who would run out onto platforms sitting just below the surface of the water and perform splashy choreography to the lights and music.
There were floats containing ballet dancers that would come out for some numbers and enormous arms emitting mist that would rise out of the lake for others. The effects were really over the top but it was truly a spectacle to behold.
Having originally been performed for the G20 summit hosted in the city in 2016 it seems like people are really proud of this, almost as an announcement of Hangzhou’s arrival as a true global city like Shanghai or Hong-Kong.
Noah is a Canadian teacher with us here at York English. You can see his other blog post here – Navigating Chinese Food