Qinghai Lake/青海湖

(下面有中文版)

One of the most well-known places to explore in Qinghai would undoubtedly be Qinghai Lake. It’s also one of the most congested places, depending on what time of year you go. If you go in July-August, when college students are on summer vacation, the road along the lake will be very crowded with cyclists, all vying for the same “off the beaten track” adventure…in a giant crowd of people doing the same thing. Any other time of year will be less crowded.

Should you avoid biking it altogether because of this? No! It’s a circuit that will take you around the famed salt lake in 3-4 days (depending on your speed) and will show you scenery ranging from snow-capped mountains, to herds of farm animals grazing, to nomadic Tibetans in the fields. You’ll see temples, prayer flags, and of course, the lake!

I will admit that Qinghai Lake has definitely been touched by the hand of Chinese tourism, meaning that many of the prettiest spots have been given poetic names and have entrance fees. Local Tibetans in this area are also well-tuned to the tourist part of this lake, charging people to take pictures of their sprawling fields of rapeseed flowers. There will be random spots where you can ride horses, yaks, and in the small portion with sand dunes, even sled down sand. If this sounds like too much for you, Qinghai has other areas to enjoy, but if you’re like me, you can enjoy this scenery while avoiding the slap of tourist attractions for the most part.

If you want to bike around Qinghai Lake, most start at a small town called 西海镇 (xi hai zhen) and take 3-4 days. There are also buses that go along one half of the lake, to 黑马河 (hei ma he) which is generally seen as “the sunrise spot.”

Or, you could take a gamble like me, and hitchhike. I made my way around the entire lake in 2 days purely by hitchhiking, and even lucked my way into a kind Tibetan family on my way back who took me for a spin in a roadside temple. All things considered, Qinghai Lake might not be the natural getaway you’d hope for, but it’s certainly beautiful nonetheless.

青海省最有名的景点肯定是青海湖,但是它也是青海最拥挤的地方。如果你是7、8月份去青海湖,这就是大学生放假的时候,所以到处都是骑自行车的年轻人。他们都在追求最奇览的经验……而且都在大群当中寻找同一个“没有人经历过”的感觉。其他时间会好一些。

这么多人说明你要放弃把青海湖绕一圈吗?并不是!这一条路会化3、4 天时间把这个有名的盐湖绕一圈(但是也要看你的速度)。你会经过雪山,大群野物,还有藏族农民。你也会看到经幡,寺庙,等等。

我会承认青海湖受到了中国旅游业的影响,说明青海湖最美丽的景点有很美丽的名字,所以有门票。当地人也发现了可以赚钱,所以如果你想拍油菜花的图片,会收钱。有些地方你可以骑马,也可以摸牛拍照。在青海湖的沙漠区,你也可以坐雪橇下沙山。如果你觉得太过分的话,你可以去青海其他地方玩,但是如果你跟我一样,你可以不那么在意这种旅游业的东西,从自己内心去看青海湖。

如果你想骑自行车,大部分游客是从西海镇开始,花大概三、四天时间。青海湖也有汽车到黑马河(被称作“看日出”的地方)。

你也可以跟我一样碰运气地搭顺风车。我花了两天时间把青海湖绕了一圈,全部是从搭车过来的。我第二天运气特别好,就碰到了一个藏族的一家人,带我去路边的寺庙。总体来说,青海湖可能不是你想想的“无人风景区”,但是它还是很漂亮,还是值得赞美的。

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West Lake/西湖

(下面有中文版!)

The first place you’ll be told to visit in Hangzhou is West Lake. That should come as no surprise, given that West Lake has been a part of Chinese poetry and folklore for hundreds of years. But, when it comes down to it, West Lake is just a giant lake. How best to enjoy it? Look at it? Take a selfie? Those are good starting places. Of course, there are other, probably more satisfying ways to explore this famed lake in Hangzhou.

  1. Quick Trip West Lake
    If you just want to see West Lake and walk along it for no more than an hour, then that’s easy. There’s a subway stop on line one “龙翔桥” (longxiangqiao) that has a convenient exit for exploring the lake. This path will likely lead you to 湖滨路 (Hubin road) which is a walking street along the lake. This portion will be crowded. Not just crowded with walkers, but with tourist carts as well. (If you’re lucky, you’ll see the squirrel that delights all Chinese tourists).
  2. West Lake by bike
    Most travelers prefer this method of exploring West Lake. It will take much of the day, though, so be prepared. You can get a transit card for a 200 RMB refundable deposit for a red bike, or if you have Wechat, you can get one of the bikes scanned by QR code. The bikes are 1 RMB after an hour, and the prices jack way up the longer you keep them, so be sure to switch bikes when you can. If this sounds like too much of a hassle, you can also rent bicycles from vendors along the lake for a day. I suggest making your way to the southern side of the lake, where there’s more greenery and less traffic. Also be prepared for hills. A bit tough on the way up, glorious on the way down.
  3. West Lake by foot
    This will take almost all day. Don’t be fooled: West Lake is bigger than you think. That being said, it’s easier to veer on side paths and get lost in the woods when you don’t have to lock up a bike and fetch it later. Once you get closer to the tea fields, there will be plenty of side paths winding through Dragonwell tea bushes.
  4. West Lake by boat
    Indeed, West Lake being a body of water, there are boats! The boat vendors are hard to miss, since they stand on the shore yelling “BOAT! BOAT! BOAT!” as you walk by. You can rent a paddle-boat (by which I mean, the vendor paddles the boat) and see the Three Pillars Mirroring the Moon (aka the image on the back of the 1 RMB note), and visit Yingzhou Isle. Bargain liberally.
  5. West Lake panorama
    You can also enjoy West Lake from above. While there are several panoramic spots, my favorite would have to be from atop Baoshi Hill (宝石山), which is off of Beishan Road (北山路) and where you’ll also find Baochu Pagoda (保俶塔). The trick is to get on top of the rocks. That’s where you’ll see what I consider the best panoramic view. (Plus, it’s FREE so you can’t beat that.) Other places include Bei Feng Hill (北高峰), Leifeng Pagoda (雷峰塔) among others.
  6. Causeways/inlets
    If you don’t want to do a circumference of the lake, you can also consider walking through a part of it. There are two causeways connecting different shores: Bai Causeway (白堤) and Su Causeway (苏堤). I personally prefer Su Causeway, because it’s greenery is a bit denser, and the Broken Bridge on the Bai Causeway is usually swamped with people. (Especially during public holidays!) Actually, the best causeway would have to be Yanggong Causeway (杨公堤), but there’s less of a lake view on that one. Another area is Solitary Hill (孤山) which is an inlet off of Beishan Road. There’s a seal museum (the stamp kind, not the animal), plus a series of interesting sculptures throughout the area. You can still see the lake, just from a different angle.

In the end, it’s up to you how you decide to visit West Lake. Just know that if you don’t visit it at all, you will be faced with a wash of shame from fellow China travelers! (Just kidding. But still, give it a visit!)

杭州第一个该看的地方就是西湖。这并不是怪事,因为西湖在中国诗歌神话中由来已久。但是归根到底西湖就是一个湖。该怎么赞赏呢?看看?自拍?这种方式可以为起发点。当然,也有其他方式可以更好地赞赏这个很有名的湖。

一、快速看西湖
如果你想不到一个小时看看西湖,走一走,那很简单。地铁一号线在龙翔桥下车就可以很方便地走到西湖边。这条路也会通过湖滨路,一条人行道。这条路人很多。也不仅是行人,也有游览车。(如果你的运气比较好,你可以看到令大部分中国游客开心的松鼠!)
二、骑自行车游西湖
大部分游客更喜欢用这个方式看西湖。骑自行车会花半天时间,所以你要提前准备。你可以拿一个交通卡,保证金200块钱,就是红色的自行车。用微信也可以扫一扫共享单车。第一个小时,一块钱,以后会很快提价。方便的话,要经常换车。如果感觉不方便,那湖边有很多租车的人,你可以租一天的自行车。我建议你去西湖的南边因为那边的绿色风景比较多,车子也比较少。要准备骑上山。上去很难,下去很好玩。
三、走路游西湖
这会花一天时间。不要小看西湖有多么大。因为如此,你也比较方便随便走上小路因为不用停车。离茶园比较近,有很多小路可以走。这种小路会在龙井茶树当中,很漂亮。
四、划船游西湖
因为西湖当然是湖,你可以划船慢慢欣赏它。租船的工作人员很难以忽略,你走过去的时候他们不断地喊“划船!划船!划船!”你可以租一个小船(也不是你划船的,是工作人员来划)然后可以看到三潭印月(换句话说一块纸币后面的背景图)、小瀛洲。但是最重要的一点,别忘了讨价还价。
五、看西湖全景
你也可以从高处看下面的西湖。当然有很多看全景的地方,但是我比较偏爱在宝石山上看西湖(在北山路上,有保俶塔)。主要是你要爬上石头看全景。对我来说,这就是杭州最好的全景,也是免费的!其他全景的地方:北高峰、雷峰塔等。
六、走提道、小路
如果你不想绕西湖一圈,你也可以去西湖的一部分走一走。湖上有两个提道,就是白堤和苏堤。我比较喜欢苏堤因为自然比较丰富,人也比白堤的断桥少一点。实际上,杭州最好的提道是杨公堤,但是从杨公堤你不怎么看得到西湖。另一个地方是孤山,就是北山路附近的一个地区。那里有一个印章博物馆,周围也有很独特的雕塑。你还是可以看到西湖,就是从另一个角度而看的。

总之,你自己要决定怎么看看西湖。但是,如果你来杭州不看西湖,你真是白来杭州了。(开个玩笑,但是你还是要尽量看看吧!)