Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hangzhou epitomises ancient beauty of China

After our four-day stay in Guangzhou, Malaysia's former ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Ahmad and I went to tour Hangzhou which is a very poetic city with many romantic legends as well as imperial rest houses, lakes, gardens and bridges designed and built during the Song Dynasty. The stone statue behind me bears the image of Su Dongpo whose poems I and many other children read in Chinese-language school textbooks at lower secondary in the 1970s.

Hangzhou is also the ancient centre of learning associated with the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet, viz Liang Shanbo Yu Zhu Yintai or, as more widely known in the English-language world, Butterfly Lovers. Like William Shakespeare's masterpiece, Butterfly Lovers is also a story of tragic romance which is still being appreciated in the forms of poems, operas and orchestras.

According to our tour guide, the legendary 'Tattoed Monk' Lu Zhi Shen, who was one of the 108 Righteous Rebels in the classical Chinese literature Shuihu Zhuan, actually died in Hangzhou. Shuihu Zhuan, which is often compared to the Robin Hood folk tales in medieval England, is available in three English editions, namely Water Margin, Outlaws of the Marsh and All Men are Brothers.

Musa Hitam plays matchmaker to Johor and Xinjiang


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