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The Travelling Monkey Street Show, Shaoxing

That’s entertainment! At first, there were just two guys holding a bunch of monkeys attached to ropes. Five minutes later, a crowd three-deep had gathered and the beaming faces said it all. Evidently, this was the kind of thing that passed for Saturday afternoon entertainment in the kind of place that Shaoxing is – the kind of place where watching a monkey smoke cigarettes brings squeals of delight and ...

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West Lake in the Snow

How many times did I go to Hangzhou last year? Two? Three? I'm not sure. But it seemed every chance I had I was back there, trying once and for all to put to bed my earlier impression of the city as being "nothing but a lake and tourists".

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Hefang Street, Hangzhou

Back during the Southern Song Dynasty when Hangzhou was China's capital, the city was perhaps the biggest and richest in the world. The 14th century Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta called it "the biggest city I have ever seen on the face of the earth." While Marco Polo, whether he ever actually visited China or not ...

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