I have to say that one of the best parts about studying abroad with CIEE is that we get to visit other neighboring cities like Hangzhou. While on my trip to Hangzhou, I have to admit that Saturday was one of the most memorable experiences ever, and have surpassed all my expectations. We first got ready at the amazing hotel and the head-on with our groups to one of the biggest temples in China.
The Ling Yin temple is known for carrying the biggest Buddha in all of China. We all had free time to explore the marvelous scenery that was waiting for us, and then we finally got to go inside the different temples and explore its the true meaning. Once I stepped inside the temple, I was astonished to see various people bowing down to there idol in an orderly fashion. Even though I don’t believe in religion, it was truly such a beautiful experience to see Chinese locals carry so much respect and passion towards their beliefs. The temple not only carried the biggest happy Buddha but also different statutes that represented the different forms of Buddha similar to the different saints in Catholicism.
After we visited the temple, we all went to see a special water performance on the Hangzhou lake at night. This show was the highlight of my whole entire trip. The water performance was absolutely spectacular. It captured the Chinese culture by include forms of martial arts, and different styles of dancing mixed with ancient Chinese music, like Chinese opera. It didn’t just capture ancient China, but it also demonstrated how advanced China was in technology. There were endless arrays of colors lighting up both the sky and the water, as well as, different storylines that kept the audience entertained throughout the whole night.
-Recorded by Valeria Arenas from Cutler Bay
We went to the Hangzhou lake show at night. I was excited and curious about the show. I was not sure what to expect since the show was going to be performed on the lake. My friends and I took a shower and wore the best clothes that we brought on the trip in order to look fancy for the show. We enjoyed the contemporary piece and duets.
—Recorded by Ashley Perez
As we arrived in Hangzhou, I honestly did not know what to expect. I knew that it was not going to be as metropolis as Shanghai, so I had a feeling that we would be exposed to more of the traditional aspects that is a part of the Chinese culture. And while I have enjoyed Shanghai for the past 3 weeks, I was missing some of the historical and cultural implications that I knew China had to offer due to Shanghai’s modernity. We visited old Buddhist temples and ancient buildings. It wasn’t until we saw the show on the West Lake where I was witnessing parts of the culture I hadn’t seen before.
With a total (of around) 7-9 different performances within the show, it was both beautiful and intriguing. I had been skeptical before the show to whether or not I would like or even understand the performance due to the vast linguistic and cultural differences. After a few minutes into the show, I lost all of those prior misconceptions. Like most art forms, the Chinese use words to express a deeper meaning, but they also use dancing, instruments, and singing to solidify that meaning. And while I am an American who can only speak English, the grace, serenity, and passion that was emulated on that transpired itself into a language I can understand. And for that, I am truly grateful. It made me realize that while our cultures may be different, we both still know how to communicate to an audience and convey our cultural identities.
-Recorded by Mathew Pulley