From White Dragon Cave to the Riversideof QianTang
A Journey across the Millennium
The first time I heard thename of HangZhou was far back in the end of 1970’s when I stayed in city NanPing FuJian province. All the name of strange cities stirred in my heart a longing and desire in my childhood for I had paid a visit to FuZhou earlier on a labor’s day and the illusionary beauty of the festival might have turned out to be a mark of all big cities in my mind. Around that age my father transferred his work from JiangSu Agriculture Company FuJian branch office to HangZhuo branch office. I had thought I could take the advantage to visit HangZhou easily but the journey was lagged so far aback that I did not make it even long after myfamily’s resettlement in the city of ZhenJiang.
I had never made clear the distance between ZhenJiang and HangZhou in my childhood years. Then the space turned to be a mystery owning to a rock cave in the park of JinShan under the Pagoda. There’s a small tunnel inside the cave and said to be inconnection to HangZhouin The Tale of White Lady. But the tunnel’s too narrow and dim forme to have courage to try. I lack the kind of courage for ever. It might be in the middle of 1980’s XiaoBaiHua ShaoXing opera Troupe frequently visited ZhenJiang in their touring performance. My mother’s a theater fan in the opera so I often followed her to watch performance. Then I found myself unaccustomed to ShaoXing dialect and the lengthy episode so frequently cried for return before the end. Whatever dramas had I watched I can only one or two names in my mind among them are the Pearl Tower and the Taleof White Lady. The predestined love between the two provinces were constructed in the classical fiction and drama long before.
Afterward the sketch of HangZhou in my mind was only a flash out of the windows on train compartment on my several journeys to the south. Beyond the strong steel skeleton of bridge QianTang a vast spread of clear water in River QianTang flow endlessly to the east until the horizon. LiuHe pagoda also made its presence there sturdier than all the pagodas I had ever seen. Every time the bridge pass costs three or five minutes owning to the speed reduce of locomotive before it enters the railway station. On my journeys back from PingYang of south ZheJiang provinceI only stayed in the city of HangZhou for a few hours for train transfer. And the scene and story between bus stopand railway station could be similar in every big city.
Early in the morning on April 22 we set off our journey to River QianTang. This time we did not prepare to go flash by so went especially to taste the scene. It isn’t along distance inreality but prolonged to be millennia in between by the tale.
The village of LongJing locates under mount ShiFeng(Lionpeak) in the vast green coverage. Every hill there has a ridge and every ridge there has a sharp edge. No earth or rock can be found exposed there. We can seeonly the skin of the mountain there but not its muscle—the skin in green. Theterrace like structure happens to be the tea garden that rises up the slope.The tea bushes climb up step by step while not having the whole mountain in itscoverage. In stead they were besieged by aspens, cedars and many unspecified.We can not perceive variety of colors but vast greenery with few dots of yellow—the tea colored tinge.
Tea composes the theme of the scenery here, forms the topic of business and constitutes the every day family life. Overlooking on top of the hill wecan see village houses hidden among the valleys. Two or three storied farm houses are lining along the valley path continuously. But in the view undergreen coverage it’s discontinuous like the bracelet of a lady walking that makeits appearance at intervals. There’re also some old structured houses with along wooden ladder leading to a long wooden veranda. At times a peasant housewife would sit there shelling peas at leisure. She works in tune with the leisureof village life among the hills and the water.
For all those stone steps we had stepped on they’re called “Ten miles of selling way”. It’s said in ancient times the venders by the river of QianTangwould take the shortcut and travel along the selling way to promote their business in the village. But alone the way I did not hear any sound of the rattle drums or the crying for business. What we can see were nothing but lines of short tea bushes. They were trimmed again and again. The newly grew tender leaves were cut by the roots. They had been picked before the tomb sweeping day. Inthis world famous tea garden what I brought to the mind were not only the “Ten miles of selling way” but also the question whether it could be the start off point for the ancient Tea-Horse-Road?…… That is a road longer. Now we have speedy means while the sound of hoof beats and the ring of camel bell spread faintly from the ancient, plus the bags of goods on the back of those animals. Foot prints,a long line of foot prints, stretched far beyond the horizontal line…….
The path up hill paved in a winding course, the path down hill sharp and the path to the riverside zigzagging. The riverside channel is called Nine Greeks and 18 Gullies to be exact. The water in the gullies comes from spring in the mountain that flew down and it keeps its course in the gurgling. The flow peeled off the greenery, cut deep into the earth, washed clean and grinded round the rocks under. I had never seen so many gullies. They flow and cut into each other but do not pervade. The gullies cut their way across the road and into the brook one by one. I did not count whether I had forded across 18 gullies but was amused by the gurgling sound that brought me back to the nature. The mountain spring held the rainwater in its mouth and the emerald green without a gap serves the mouth with the water exuding between the teeth. The flow last for countless sunny day after the rain stop. The gullies were dug out by the flow all the way deep and shallow unevenly. The shallow can not submerge your ankle and the deep up to your waist or even breast. Once I had heard the saying “The crystal water breeds no fish.” I’m not sure whether there had been fishes or bugs in the entity. Presently I saw none of them. I did not specially go to prove it. Maybe the rapids won’t contain the fishes and the bugs. The gurgling sound may not tolerate their stand? The rapids won’t tolerate me too and urged me to rush ahead on the stones then pushed me away in the crowds. There were countless people on the way among them I had no grand ambition like those on the Ancient Tea Horse Road. In front of a cliff fall all the formal gurgling ended. Another two miles ahead I reached the riverside of QianTang thus my destination approached. I can not imagine the ambition of the merchants who came from far away nor the routes they designed. While I just followed the crystal brook that rushed me into the tranquil campus— HangZhou University.
My interests in HangZhou University originate from a university anthem from the post for our departure: “Facing the tide, facing the sunrise in day and rounded moon at night we stand in besiege of mountains that overlook the country. We learn to meet the demands of our era in sincerity and benevolence. We learn to practice our role and serve the people.” The first paragraph accumulated the nature spirits of sun, moon and tide. That the school stands respectable to the surrounding mountains. Before we set off our journey beyond the ocean we had to set up a grand ambition and that ambition not to conquer the land but to meet the demand as well as to serve the people in sincerity and benevolence. The song vividly exemplified the university spirits so my entrance could be entitled as “Seeking the song” or “Following the song”.
The atmosphere of HangZhou University presents nothing in different to other Universities in its tranquility and green color. No sound of reading aloud spread out while the students were in their reading. We can find crowded but quiet place only in university nowadays. The class room were filled and some students could be found playing on the sports ground. While the gentle chirrup of bird always prevails human sound. A narrow cement road led us to a deserted western style ancient church building. A corner stone marked its establishment in the year 1919 for visitor to admire. That’s an American private investment. Many Chinese western studies have similar history including the famous TsingHua Campus. From the beginning the spread of western science and technology were combined with their unique religion. It had become a uniform code for western studies in time for Republic of China. A few other constructions nearby marked their establishment around 1935 including the library. The heavy weight of history and the tranquility of campus mixed in our contemplation, for which I raised up my head to observe the English title up the door in faded color—Severance hall. Considering the difference between Chinese culture and the western’s I don’t think the line values the ancient Chinese value of speaking less and thinking more. It could be a Christian meditation to be thankful to the God. So the distance between the value and science thinking could be even farther away. Though the contemplators think in different ways it all could be named contemplation. In the sense of adoption and taking initiative in the use the erect could be of present significance there.
As I faintly recalled the contents of the Tale of White Lady the hero XuXian didn’t reach the bridge cutoff first. He firstly reached the bank of River QianTang. The tale set in an age much earlier to the university era even the river didn’t name so as ZhiJiang. If I had to forcefully make a connection between temple JinShan and city HangZhou I would like my destination to be in a university. Let the ancient story of our city set off its journey quietly from river QianTang and travel far away across the ocean.