August 12, 2013
by Hayeon Shim

Nihao everyone,
I can’t believe a month has flown by already. Summer is in its full effect and I have been told it’s the hottest summer in Shanghai in over 140 years. We’ve had a few showers but it’s always a nice surprise since it helps cool down the heat.

I’ve been working with the hospitality team on villas in Xiamen, China. We’ve teamed up with a few folks in Dallas. Despite the time difference, we’ve had no problem collaborating. Even though sometimes it’s through emails or phone calls, it’s always nice to get an opportunity to meet and work with other HKS folks.

Last week, I went to Tianzifang which is in the French Concession area of Shanghai. Tianzifang is a compact, dense retail district comprised of a maze of 1930s era passageways and laneways lined with tiny boutique stores, art galleries, restaurants and bars. Now home to over 200 businesses, you can easily spend hours exploring this eclectic neighborhood which is exactly what Michelle and I did. Although, Tianzifang became a full-fledged retail district, it still somehow manages to feel authentic due to its historic architecture (Shikumen).

Also, I took a short trip to Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province to escape from the city. It’s well known for West Lake (Xi Hu) which is surrounded by forested mountains and many more historical sites. It was once the capital of China (in the Song Dynasty from 900AD) and has continued to be an important center for trade in silk and green tea amongst other things and a popular domestic leisure destination. While I was there, I visited Lingyin Temple – one of the largest, oldest and most revered in China. To get there, I walked through ‘Peak Flying From Afar’ – so named because it is looks different and is made of sandstone unlike the rest of the area, which is primarily limestone. There are over 400 statues of Buddha carved into the mountain from between the 10th and 14th centuries – most of which survived the destructive Cultural Revolution.

In the evening I was dazzled by a nightly open-air extravaganza called the ‘Impression West Lake’ show, designed by the creator of the Beijing Olympics. Hundreds of dancers glided over the lake in synchronized choreography to lights and original music – a real wow under a moonlit night with lit pagodas in the background.

Overall, I had a relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of city life. But whether it’d be in Hangzhou or Shanghai, I continue to be amazed and struck by China’s long history and culture. I can’t wait to discover more.

Xihu Video

Until next time, Hayeon