The lush and well-tended Buddhist island of Pǔtuóshān – the Zhōushān Archipelago’s most celebrated isle – is the abode of Guanyin, the eternally compassionate Goddess of Mercy. One of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains, Pǔtuóshān is permeated with the aura of the goddess and the devotion of her worshippers.
Wēnzhōu, a thriving seaport on Zhèjiāng’s east coast, is a pivotal player in China’s wheeling and dealing free market economy. Strong business ties to Europe and North America have given the city a prosperous air (and a large number of shoe factories). Most travellers find Wēnzhōu rather dull, although there are some scenic places to visit outside the city.
Nestled on the border with Jiāngsū province, about 125km from Hángzhōu and only 20km from Wūzhèn, Nánxún is a water town whose contemporary modest appearance belies its once glorious past. Established more than 1400 years ago, the town came to prominence during the Southern Song dynasty due to its prospering silk industry.
Located far inland, Wǔyì is itself an uninspiring city, but it is the gateway to the two villages of Yúyuán and Guōdòng in the surrounding scenic hilly countryside. It is preferable to spend the night in Guōdòng, which has more character and charm, but if you wish to stay in Wǔyì, hotels can be found near the long-distance bus station.
Qiántáng River Tidal Bore
An often spectacular natural phenomenon occurs every month on Hángzhōu’s Qiántáng River (钱塘江), when the highest tides of the lunar cycle dispatch a wall of water – sometimes almost 9m tall – thundering along the narrow mouth of the river from Hángzhōu Bay, at up to 40km per hour.