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Hangzhou’s West Lake is well-known to all Chinese as a city of honey-moon love or otherwise a very special holiday destination.

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Once a fabled imperial city on and around West Lake, and a cosmopolitan place of famous poets and high culture – especially during the Southern Song dynasty, Hangzhou was a stunning beauty that Marco Polo described as “greater than any in the world”.

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Looking to Leifeng Pagoda, West Lake of Hangzhou

Today it still has a ton of charm. West Lake is divided into 5 sections by 3 (man-made) causeways, with temples, pagodas, gardens and artificial islands abound. And beyond the popular places of interest, there remains a blissful tranquility.

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From the peaks near the Baochu Pagoda overlooking West Lake and the modern city of Hangzhou  (Note: the rock climber on the left).

Humid, piercing summer light. Mystical, misty vistas. Sharp frozen cold. Colorful, leafy hues. I saw a slice of it all – across the year I spent living and working and playing, in Hangzhou.

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In 2011, West Lake became a UNESCO World Heritage Site; but most tourism remains domestic. Taking a boat across the lake is an essential activity.

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Iconic emblems of Hangzhou: “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”.

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Some chat on mobiles; others walk arm in arm …

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On an island amid West Lake, awaiting a boat back to the shore

These images are inspired by my love of a Chinese woman here in China in 2015. Wei, I take you to West Lake – in my head, strolling together, elated and free, with the warmth and color of a closing Autumn day.

Travels in China – 2012-13

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