Lake Geneva at Morges, Switzerland

Spring has already set in when we arrived the small but charming town of Morges in Switzerland.  This is where the Tulip festival is held each year to celebrate the return of spring. Apart from this, we didn’t know much about Morges, only that Audrey Hepburn (remember “Moon River” and singer Andy Williams who passed away yesterday?) was buried somewhere near this town.

It was early May, although we were a bit late for the first bloom of the tulips still there were a lot of flowers in the garden beside Lake Geneva.

Once alighted from the car, we couldn’t wait to have a walk in the flowered garden. Next to the Lake Geneva, the garden also has wide, green expanses of lawn and beautiful, stately trees.

Although the tulip exhibition has just finished, it was a lovely walk around the garden. Flowers were everywhere. Apart from tulips, Morges is known for its irises  and in summer, the dahlia brightens up the shore in Morges.

There are great paths to walk  along and flowerbeds to add colour, beauty and atmosphere to it all – benches to  sit and relax under the trees in the shade or out in the sun. There are signs on the lakeside promenade which shows that you can walk all the way to Lausanne.

We wandered along, strolling by the foreshore of the lake. It was a joy walking the lakeside promenade, watching the yachts.

Morges is a typical lakeside town opposite majestic Mont-Blanc.  From here we have a good view of the lake and the mountains from afar.

The marina is the best place to see yachts lying at their berths. The setting was just so breathtaking!

It was peaceful sitting on the benches on the lakeside promenade and viewing the marina.

The foreshore was so well manicured with all the trimmings!

After the stroll in the garden and the lakeside promenade, we took a look at the town center. It was a surprise to find the  cobbled, pedestrian-only main street was lined with shops, bakeries, fountains, and benches. It is also the venue of lively markets.

As with many things in Switzerland, the surrounding give you a sense of serene and tranquility. My first impressions of Switzerland were more related to chocolates,  raclette, fondue, cuckoo clocks, bank accounts. After this visit, I am thinking of Switzerland more in terms of lake, yachts, flowers, mountains, beautiful sceneries and tranquility.

XiXi, Hangzhou in the Winter

While we were in West Lake, we took the opportunity to visit Xixi, China’s only national wetland which is 5 km away from West Lake. Xixi National Wetland Park covers approximately 10 sq km. The wetland, which has a history of 1800 years,  is a self-sustaining ecological system and is now an eco-educational center. It is also a paradise of various kinds of birds.

Water is the soul of Xixi. it covers 70% of the park. The park is crisscrossed with six main watercourses, scatter ponds, lakes and swamps. We took a boat which brought us along the waterways to various islands and sights.

Xixi has long been  a land of seclusion. Thanks to the picturesque waterways and rural landscapes, Xixi has always been the home for artists and writers  who produce poems, calligraphy, paintings and epigraphy. In some of the famous buildings here  many scholars and poets have written their famous poems and prose.

As it was winter, we found we were the only visitors in many of the scenic spots.

On the boat, we passed through many beautiful sights. We first passed by this footbridge with three spans of different levels.

Travelling further along the waterway,  there was this other footbridge spanning across the lonely waterway.

The boat brought us to various locations where we could jump off and walked the trails.

We landed on one of the islands and passed by some deserted sampans.

We lazily strolled along a dyke by the side of this ancient pagoda.

The trail brought us to many lakes and more and more houses of ancient designs.

When it was time for lunch, we have a simple lunch in this restaurant with red lanterns. Not surprisingly, we were the only guests in the restaurant.

After lunch, we wandered further along the trail, visiting more houses.

The weather was not forgiving. Like what we had the previous day at West Lake, it started raining again.  We saw  this lonely boatman rowing his sampan hurrying home.

This reminded us that it was almost time that we should be making our way back to the hotel by the lake in West Lake.

The rain kept pouring down, hitting hard at the reeds by the side of the waterway. Although it is a known bird paradise, no birds were in sight.

It is said that Xixi has several  distinct aesthetic features: cold and secluded, raw and wild, simplicity and elegance. Throughout the whole trip,  we were mindful of their presence. But our first impression of this park is indeed its grey and loneliness.

With the grey sky above us and with loneliness in our hearts, we vowed we would come back and revisit it on a more cheerful day . . . . . . . . . .

Watching Kois in West Lake (Xihu) Hangzhou, China

Last Summer, the World Heritage Committee has inscribed the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The inscribed landscape has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.  The West Lake has influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries and bears an exceptional testimony to the cultural tradition of improving landscapes to create a series of vistas reflecting an idealised fusion between humans and nature

We knew it wasn’t the best time of the year for visiting West Lake in Hangzhou China. It was November, the sky was hazy and it was cool when we landed at the airport.

Early next morning, we started our exploration of the lake which is listed by UNESCO. We strolled along the banks of the West Lake, wandering into an area which is known as “Orioles Singing in the Willows “.

The view was refreshingly green. There were willows everywhere and the place looked very tranquil; although we didn’t see or hear any orioles.

As we wandered further along the bank of the lake, the rain began to fall.

We have a good watch of wild ducks swimming in the water and the whole lake with willows on the bank looked so serene.

Strolled further along, we were awed by view with this traditional Chinese bridge standing out of the water on the other side of the lake.

Not deterred by the rain, we walked further along and crossed the  footbridge (below).

We came to a lake where schools of bright-colored kois were  swimming ; they were mainly red and orange in color.

It was a joy to watch the kois admist the rain. The sky turned dark and this imparted a blue hue on the water surface. The whole thing started looking like a painting. Rain drops shooting into the water and spreading out as  ripples.

The kois swam underneath the water and only surfaced when they spotted food on the water surface. The kois swimming in the lake were just like impressionist paintings with a blue background. The contrasting  red and orange colors were in an ever-changing pattern of different spatial dispersion and intensity.

I was entranced by their movements, sometimes swimming together, came up to the surface and compete for the food they found.

I could see the individual droplets of rain hitting the surface  of the water and the resulting ripples spreading out.

I thought I could stay here all day gazing how the kois came together against the blue background. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For related post ” The Last Days of Autumn in West Lake, China”, please see https://retireediary.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/the-last-days-of-autumn-in-west-lake-china/