Shaoxing's East Lake (Dōng Hú, 东湖) is a man-made lake just a few minutes east of the center of the city. But before you get stuck on the images of man-made suburban ponds that are running through your head, keep in mind that this spot began life as a stone quarry, 1,300 years ago, during the Sui Dynasty.
Once the beautiful green rock had been removed from the site, the people of Shaoxing dammed the surrounding streams, filling the quarry with water. With the addition of pagodas and winding paths, the lake soon became a place for quiet walks and introspection, with an ominous cliff face dominating the landscape above the water.
Today, the lake functions primarily as a tourist destination, but that's not to say that it isn't pretty, or relaxing. As long as you avoid the major holidays and the height of tourist season (late spring, early fall), you're bound to have a nice afternoon of boating around the lake (RMB 40 or so, depending on your haggling skills) and peeking into the various nooks of the cliff wall. For the more ambitious traveler, there is even a path that leads to the top of the cliff and provides fantastic views of the lake and surrounding rice paddies.
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