At dawn, I rolled out of bed, wolfed down some jook, and plopped down in Michael’s car. 10 minutes later, he revved up the engine and we were off. First stop: West Lake to pick up his grandparents. Then, we were off on our day-long road trip to Lin’an.
Lin’an has quite an interesting history. Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion of 1276. Throughout this period, it was actually known as Lin’an. Due to the Jin conquest in the North, the city served as the new center of Chinese culture and civilization. In the 13th century Marco Polo supposedly visited, and declared Lin’an/Hangzhou as ‘the finest and noblest in the world’. Throughout the next few centuries, Hangzhou went through many ups and downs at the hands of dynasties, Taiping Heaven Kingdom, and the KMT power struggle against the Communist Party. In recent years, Hangzhou has prospered due its prime location in the Yangtze River Delta and reputation as ‘Heaven on Earth’. As for Lin’an, the name has been adopted by a county-level city in the Hangzhou municipality of Zhejiang Province. Today, Lin’an City is well known for its beautiful mountains and scenery, and is the ultimate summer vacation spot for the elderly.
Michael’s grandparents are retreating into the lush mountains of Lin’an until September to escape Hangzhou’s scorching summer. They have been doing so for the past 8 years, and have built up quite a posse of grandpas and grannies to retreat with them. For the rest of summer, they will live in a comfortable resort run by local farmer-entrepreneurs. Accommodation, dining and entertainment are fully covered by the owners, and they will spend their days sipping tea, playing card games, and playing in the crystal clear water of the creek that runs right down the road. What a relaxing dream vacation.
I’ll let the pictures speak for Lin’An’s natural beauty.
Beautiful place. I’m still basking in the afterglow.