We had a rough end of the week with packing and preparing to leave China, and then being told less than 24 hours before our flight that we were not actually leaving China yet. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from the preparations involved in flying internationally, and we just wanted to get out of the pollution and into nature! This time, we opted for a place much closer to Ningbo, and more populated and touristy so that we could take a taxi both to and from the lake. We were happy with our choice!
Dongqian lake is the largest lake in the Zhejiang province of China. It is located southeast of Ningbo, and was a 30-40 minute taxi ride from our hotel depending on who drove and the route. Our taxi dropped us off at the main tourist area. It was crowded with stalls selling toys, docks offering speed boat rides, and loads of tourists that came in on tour buses. There was an option to purchase tickets and enter an area where you basically walk across part of the lake on a little jetty, but we opted against it because it looked like it was also lined with toy stalls, which is torture with a 3-year-old!
There is a short walkway along the lake in the opposite direction of the paid jetty experience, so we walked down there and found that across a canal was a small fishing village! It looked like there was a walkway on the fishing village side that would continue around the lake shore, so we found our way back to a bridge to go across to the fishing village. There were no tourists, and we got lots of funny looks as we walked through the narrow streets. Our end goals of this excursion were to enjoy nature and take Landon on a paddle boat ride. We had seen paddle boats near a big golden statue on the hill on our way in, but we had no idea how long of a hike it would be to find that part of the lake again!
I decided against walking along the main road with tons of cars and tour buses, so we went through the fishing village and around the other side. I think that this part of the lake is actually an island- we crossed a bridge to reach it from the shore, and it didn’t seem to be attached to land anywhere else. The only other option was to wander the streets of this fishing village and try to find the paddle boats. I thought Landon would be interested in walking/running to get wiggles out, but he was so excited about the paddle boats that he wanted to sit in the stroller so that we could get there as quick as possible.
I guess we were wanderers in the truest sense of the word as we snaked our way through the streets of the fishing village. Eventually, we came to a wider road that had a few cars, and came upon this elaborately decorated Chinese hall and lily pond with huge lily pads.
Soon, we walked up and over part of the island and had amazing views of the rest of the lake, as well as some dilapidated buildings that nature had begun to reclaim. There were water plants on this part of the lake that were a beautiful purple color, and a different shape than the typical lily plants.
Soon, we turned onto a path that had street lamps, and we knew we had returned back to civilization/tourist area. I was glad that our trekking around the island had not been for nothing, and that we would soon get our son to the boat!
We turned the corner and suddenly saw paddle boats! We had made it! We stopped for a quick lunch and I left Austin to communicate with the boat guys that we wanted a paddleboat. Somehow, we ended up with a motor boat with a tiny motor that only went one speed- VERY slow. We decided that instead of a 1 horsepower motor, this motor was a sheep motor. Landon kept asking us to go faster, and we had to tell him that the boat only had a forward and reverse switch, no pedal to control speed. I’m not sure we could have paddled faster in a paddle boat, but we could have tried!
It was fun to gain a different perspective of the lake and shore from out on the water. There was a giant golden statue of the founder of the lake island on top of the hill, and so we tried to get some pictures of that from the lake. Landon loved steering the boat, and turning us in circles. The boat man kept coming out in a motor boat telling us and other recreational boaters to stay within the buoy lines they had set up. That was kind of lame, but as the wind picked up and a storm blew in, I can see why they were getting nervous.
The motor was so under powered, and we were so heavy for the boat, that we were almost unable to get away from shore because the wind was pushing us back! Eventually, we drove the boat out toward the road at the lake’s edge, and got a shot of the whole island with the golden guy, just for some perspective.
From our position way out in the lake, we saw storm clouds rolling in and the wind started to pick up. The lake became quite wavy so we decided to head for shore. There was an old navy ship docked along the shore that we decided to get a closer look at before heading to the dock. Landon liked seeing the guns and flags. Right as we were heading back into the dock, the boat man came out in his speed boat and had everyone come back in to the dock. The rain and crazy wind started as we were slowly inching our way through docking area to our spot. They kept motioning us to come quicker- I’m not sure they realized that the put-put motor + heavy/big/pregnant Americans= a very slow boat!
Our plans to hike up to the golden guy were thwarted by the sudden onset of the storm, so we just walked back to the main road and waited at a bus station. We decided that we would get on whatever came first- unoccupied taxi, or bus. I had not researched where this particular bus went, so I was relieved when we hailed a taxi a few minutes later.
We loved our time at Dongqian lake. Had I known where the paddle boats and little boats were, I would have had the taxi drop us off by the golden guy statue instead of the other tourist area. Regardless of where you end up getting dropped off, the lake is a great escape from the city and not too far away from Ningbo! If we didn’t have the stroller, and if I wasn’t so pregnant, we probably would have rented a tandem bike (some of them had children’s seats on the front) and biked around the lake as many others were doing. As it is, it was a chill and fun way to spend part of a Saturday.