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Can’t believe I’ve been living in this city for over six months and no one has ever told me what a great place the Grand Canal is! I finally went for a ride there one day and had a grand time, especially as it’s much emptier than the vastly overrated West Lake.

Oh, you’ll be wondering what the Grand Canal is. It’s a canal that connects Beijing and Hangzhou. The oldest parts were constructed in about 5th century BC and it was finally completed in the 6th century. Total length: 1,776 km. Pretty impressive, eh? Later that day on the way to dinner I was told by my Chinese friends that some of the more dissipate emperors would sail the length of it on a boat manned (manned? sic!) by attractive naked ladies. Humph. Anyway, here’s a handful of pictures:

I’ve never before seen trees with flowers growing straight out of the trunk. Interesting!

Basically most of the length of the canal is a narrow park, with plenty of spaces like this one, for people to sit down, chill out and do some knitting.

Yes, yes, I know I’ve got a flower obsession. But it was the cherry blossom season and cherry trees are a big thing here! See? It’s an educational photo!

There’s a little old town at one place with the Gourmet Street at one end. Full of cooks chilling out (during the day, when it’s empty).

Had some Korean fried octopus balls. Nice! A bit bland, but nice.

A bridge pillar detail

More cooks chilling out…

A man fishing out garbage from the water

Waiters receiving instructions before the night shift

Forget Lipton – this is how much real tea costs (898 yuan for 500 grams of the Dragon Well tea)!

Stone figures in a traditional style teahouse

Spring on the Grand Canal

There cannot be a place in China claiming to be old and with no bamboo

Again: Hangzhou at its flowery best!

A moment of contemplation

A cook watching a couple of newlyweds having their photos taken

Blue and Pink

The end of my trail: a warrior guarding a bridge