‘Sea of Poppies’ in Chinese/Memories of Hangzhou

November 15, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments (2)



‘Sea of Poppies’ has just been published in Chinese, by the publishing house Shanghai 99. The translators are Dr Guo Guoliang and Dr Li Yao.






Seeing the cover reminded me of a trip  in 2011 when Debbie and I






visited Dr Guo Guoliang in Hangzhou, where he teaches.









A friend, the writer Ming Lu, had recommended a pre-revolutionary Art Deco hotel








called the New Hotel.







It is right on Hangzhou’s renowned West Lake and



the rooms offer breathtaking views.











Created over a thousand years ago, the West Lake is one of the most beautiful urban landscapes on earth –





when you’re there it’s hard to believe that Hangzhou is a sprawling industrial city







(it was a vast city even when Ibn Battuta visited it, in the 14th century – he said of it: “it is the biggest city I have ever seen on the face of the earth”).





On an island at the centre of the lake




is the hundred year old Lou Wai Lou (‘Tower beyond Tower’) –







a restaurant which is famous for its views





and its clay-baked













‘Beggars Chicken’.














At the northwest end of the lake is the Lingyin temple (‘Temple of the Soul’s Retreat’)






which is one of the most famous in China.










The temple is said to have been founded in 326 C.E. by an Indian monk, known as Hui Li in China.






It is one of the largest Zen temples in China.










As often in Chinese temples, there is an arresting image of the Bodhidharma,






who is said to have been a monk from southern India (he is credited with introducing tea to China – the bush is said to have sprouted from his eyelids).









Magnificent rock-cut friezes






depict the journeys







of  Buddhist monks






who traveled from India to China,






over the Himalaya.












We were lucky to be shown around by two of Dr Guo’s students




from the Dept of English at Zhejiang University.








And afterwards we had a memorable dinner with Dr Guo




and some of his students.










Hangzhou’s Zhejiang  University is one of the most prestigious in China –















it is like a city in itself.





We had a terrific interaction with Dr Guo Guoliang’s students –








it was interesting to learn that many of them are fans of Aamir Khan’s ‘Three Idiots’ (the film was a huge hit in China).







And afterwards we had another memorable meal in a nearby restaurant.







Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of Dr Li Yao – the birth of her first child was imminent so she couldn’t be with us through most of this. But she later sent me a lovely picture of her newborn daughter –






who  will be growing up with the Ibis Trilogy for a couple of years yet: I just heard from Guoliang that he and Dr Li Yao are now working on the translation of River of Smoke.




2 Responses to “‘Sea of Poppies’ in Chinese/Memories of Hangzhou”

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  1. Comment by Li Yao — November 16, 2012 at 2:21 am   Reply

    Translating Sea of Poppies is no less thrilling than the Ibis journey. Looking forward to seeing dear Amitav soon.

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