In Hangzhou

It is a month into my teaching experience in China.  So far, I have been enjoying my experience.  I did not know what to expect here, but perhaps due to my ignorance of geography and world facts, I did not know that it is a larger city than my hometown of Toronto by three times;  Hangzhou is 9 million.   Additionally, it is fascinating.  It has a link back to the Song Dynasty.

In another period it was written about by Marco Polo.   He described it as a teeming metropolis with a uncountable things being traded.  Here is a quote re-posted from the site “”

During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) Marco Polo, famous European traveller and explorer from Venice, visited Hangzhou. He was overwhelmed and referred to the city as “beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world.” “The number and wealth of the merchants, and the amount of goods that passed through their hands, was so enormous that no man could form a just estimate thereof.”
One of the many benefits from the visit of Marco Polo was that westerners now discovered silk, which since then has been ever so appreciated.

“The Marco Polo statue”
The city of Hangzhou has not forgotten the first westerner that visited Hangzhou and introduced Hangzhou to the Europeans. Therefore Marco Polo has been honoured with a statue near the West Lake.

“…most beautiful and magnificent city in the world”
There is a Chinese proverb: “Shang you tian tang, xia you su hang” which in English means “up there is heaven, down here is Suzhou and Hangzhou”. Marco Polo apparently did not see that much difference when he called Hangzhou “the City of Heaven, and classified it as “the most beautiful and magnificent in the world.”
Marco Polo was enormously fascinated by its grandeur of the Chinese culture and technology and he described all marvelous things he saw in his book “Il Milione” (“The travels of Marco Polo” in English). In the beginning however, few believed in what he was telling, since in 13th century China’s civilization was much more advanced than the European one.

The problem in the 14th century was that the Chinese were centuries ahead in many sciences which the Western world could
not or wanted to believe.

In 2016, it does not strike you as so much different from any Western city with the big restaurant and clothing chains everywhere.  Within walking distance there is a Mcdonalds, a Subway sandwich shop, a Starbucks, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, an H and M, and a gap.  Although of course, everything is slightly changed to Chinese tastes.  Furthermore, there are many local chains of course, unique restaurants and clothing shops as well, that I had not known about before coming here, but have enjoyed.  On the main thoroughfare you can see a traditional multi tiered building, towards the famous West lake , where there are ferry rides and walkways and many traditional looking buildings.  I have not finished exploring this.   In the opposite direction giant imposing skyscraper that would seem appropriate to be the headquarters of any giant corporation.  There are some nice contrasts here between old and new.

In terms of location it is close to Shanghai, where I will soon go to visit.  Currently there is a short break due to the G20 meeting being held here in Hangzhou.  This really is a very big deal here, and may bring more recognition and buzz to the city.