gardens

Hangzhou is one of these places that truly surprise you about China. Somehow, it manages to combine business and factories with inspiring landscapes without one really noticing a drastic change of scenery. As soon as we arrived at the train station, we realized that Hangzhou wasn’t the provincial town we had envisioned – it was a capital city with over 6 million habitants (many of them hanging around the extremely busy station, for whatever reason!).

For a second, we debated whether we might have actually gotten off the wrong stop or, even worse, taken a completely wrong train.

But we didn’t.

Completely unprepared (without a map, a chinese dictionary or any kind of reference) we hopped on a cab and entertained the cab driver with our 10 different ways to explain “West Lake”. One of the girls I learned the cardinal points in chinese and kept on repeating “Xi ! Xi!” while the rest of us played roles of drowning people, swimmers and sailors. I honestly understand why chinese cab drivers were often pissed off – us tourists are such a waste of time!

I’m not sure whether it was thanks to our great mimics or just because he thought that by driving any direction we would finally shut up, but somehow we landed kind of where we wanted – The West Lake.

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

The West Lake was just as I had imagined a chinese lake surrounded by mountains and gardens – romantic and mysterious. Below are some of my favorite in Hangzhou.

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

West Lake, Hangzhou (China)

Have you been to Hangzhou? Do you know any other place like this?

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Fall In Kew Gardens, London

Last sunday I visited Kew Gardens. I had been wanting to go since I moved to London more than a year ago, but there was always something last-minute stopping me (most of the time, it was sudden rain showers). Kew Gardens, for those of you who may not know, is one of the World’s most famous gardens – a UNESCO World Heritage site to my collection.

These gardens are home of thousands of different species from all over the globe. They never really lose their charm – no matter the season. With it’s 16 GBP entry fee, it’s definitely not a bargain – but it was definitely worth it to capture the most out of autumn in London.

Fall in Kew Gardens, London

Fall in Kew Gardens, London

Fall in Kew Gardens, London

Fall in Kew Gardens, London

Fall in Kew Gardens, London

Where is your favorite spot to capture autumn shots?

The Yu Yuan Garden, located just a few steps from Shanghai’s Bund in Old Shanghai, is a 2 hectares large garden full of secrets, hideaway and beautiful adornments. It’s name, I read, translates literally into “Garden of Happiness”.

I kind of understand why.

Yu Yuan Garden, Shanghai

The garden covers seven sub-gardens, each of which is completely surrounded by walls with fantasy gateways connecting each one to the next. Gateways had different forms and sizes – from circular ones to more detailed shaped ones!

Gateways in Yu Yuan Garden, Shanghai

Walking through the different sections, we came across beautiful garden pavilions and terraces, each symbolizing Old Shanghai’s elegance. Some of the pavilions are named after popular chinese poems, which can often be found inscribed on the pillars, hanging on either side of the gates or in the halls.

Pavilions in Yu Yuan Garden, Shanghai

It’s easy to fall in love with this place – gold-fish swimming in small ponds, beautiful architecture and blooming flowers everywhere. But the devil (or dragon, in this case) is in the detail. When visiting Yu Yuan, a great part of surprises can be seen when looking up, above your usual eye level. I was excited to find several dragons as part of a wall or the roof of pavilions!

Dragon Wall in Yu Yuan Garden, Shanghai

Dragon, Yu Yuan Garden, Shanghai

The whole garden is so delicately designed that we spent hours wandering through it and never really had enough of it. More than just a tourist attraction (which it still is – given the large amount of chinese tourists capturing each and every corner of it), it is a place to spend half or even a full day. All you need is a camera, a book (or even a sketch book!) and a large bottle of water. In such a poetic atmosphere, inspiration will come in no time.

Finding inspiration in Yu Yuan, Shanghai

Have you been to Yu Yuan Garden? Where, otherwise, would you go to find inspiration?