By Charlie Gonzalez,2014-06-14 10:03
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Another Visit to the West Lake

    Translated by Swan (Taken from

    1. Writers compare high mountains to the young mother’s rounded

    breasts while poets compare lakes to the beauty’s bright eyes.

    2. I love rivers as well as lakes, regarding it as a paramount treat to go

    boating on the lake.

    3. I spent my childhood and early youth on the shores of the so-called

    36000-qing Taihu Lake, which left me with an unforgettable

    impression. Young visitors and I once roamed around the South Lake

    in Jiaxing and the Thin West Lake in Yangzhou. In 1954 Central

    South Writers’ Association was established on the East Lake in

    Wuhan, whose village-girl-like disorderly and ragged simplicity of

    beauty won my admiration. Jianhu Lake in Lu Xun’s hometown is

    transparent like a mirror. Owing to her geographical conditions and

    some other particular factors, I came across the East Qianhu Lake in

    Zhengxian County, Zhejiang Province, as though I had discovered an

    unknown matchless beauty “locked in the boudoir”....

    4. Among the numerous beautiful lakes, the most famous is none other

    than the West Lake in Hangzhou, a beauty without an equal.

    5. It was in the spring of 1957 that I visited the West Lake for the first

    time, accompanied by the young writer Mr. L. We took a train from

    Shanghai to Hangzhou, whose old and shabby railway station greeted

    us. On a tricycle I became rather disappointed: lacking in street

    scenes, Hangzhou was only just so-so!

    6. Past quite a few narrow lanes and old roads, the tricycle carried us to

    the lakeside. Before our eyes lay a rippling large blue lake, as if a fair,

    slim and graceful beauty had descended from heaven. The tricycle

    pulled up on the shore. In the distant, sunset-bathed hills and towers

    reminded us of the fairyland and we couldn’t help cheering in the

    heart: “How beautiful the West Lake is!”

    7. In the past forty years, I’ve repeatedly visited Hangzhou. This

    mid-autumn, together with my wife, my son and daughter-in-law, I

    came to the West Lake once again.

    8. We four stayed in a hostel near the flower nursery on the Lake.

    Scarcely had we settled our luggage when we shouted excitedly, “Go

    and see the West Lake!”

    9. The West Lake was just as bright and beautiful as before, with clear,

    blue ripples; the sunset-bathed hills and towers in the distant were the

    same. (Except that the sightseer grew old!)

    10. Early the next morning, after washing and dressing briefly we came

    to the lakeside and chose a tea-booth from which we were able to

    view the whole landscape. Seated here, we ordered a bowl of

    sweet-scented osmanthus and lotus root paste and a cup of longjing

    tea for each. We sat there quietly enjoying the lakeside scenery. At

    that moment there were few visitors and the thin fog on the lake had

    not dispersed yet. The West Lake was really like a maiden who hadn’t

    put on makeup in the morning, amorously and quietly glancing


    11. I sat there dumbstruck till we left at noon for Zhiwei Guan on the

    lakeside to eat fish with sour sauce and soup of lotus root, which we

    really felt delicious.

    12. On the lake once again, this time, however, we were in a small boat

    drifting here and there, instead of visiting the numerous “scenic

    spots” into which jostling crowds of sightseers had poured.

    13. On the pleasure-boat, we were separated by the board from the

    transparent water, on which the boat was gliding buoyantly. At times I

    asked the boat woman to rest the oars, leaving the boat alone.... An

    ancient poem flashed in my mind:

    14. “Having retired from the public life, I can do nothing for the royal

    government, for there will be patriotic persons of merit in the

    imperial court. Just go and boat on Qiantang Lake, chanting with

    freezing irony and drinking idly for the next few years.”...

    15. The small boat had floated on the lake for two or three hours before

    the sun was setting in. The sunset was reflected in the velvet surface

    of the lake and brought out soft shades of green and gold, which

    made the lake all the more beautiful. It was getting dark and the boat

    was anchored at the white dyke. After going ashore we footed it back

    all the way along the white dyke, looking about, and I could not but

    utter ravings, “It’s hard on the king of the South!”....

    16. On reaching our hostel, it was dark. We opened the door and a strong

    fragrance of osmanthus greeted us. It suddenly occurred to me that

    there were orange osmanthuses all over the city of Hangzhou and that

    it was the season when the scent of the flowers wafted about. Now I

    truly understood the line, “I was lucky enough to see it in old age; this

    trip is really worthy of the travelling expenses.”

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