Meihua. “If my Mandarin serves me correctly,” I ponder aloud, “then mei means negative, or without, and hua is speech, so the name translated into English is something like Lake Without Words.” I smile triumphantly at my linguistic genius. “Nope” says Charlie immediately. “The name means Plum Blossom Lake, I checked the guidebook.” Ah. Curse those pesky tones. Needless to say my Chinese isn’t anything to write home about. Meihua lake, on the other hand, is certainly worth a mention.
Head out of Luodong towards the Sports Park and turn left just before the bridge. Keep going straight for what feels like slightly too long (15 minutes) and you’ll hit a perilous roundabout. Check both ways and check again before going so that you don’t die. Take the third exit and you’ll find the road spiraling upwards. When you think you’re completely and utterly lost – don’t panic. Remain calm for another 5 minutes and out of nowhere a colossal temple complex appears on your right as if dropped from heaven. Intriguing enough to be worth a visit on its own merits, the temples not why you’re here. Its that there blue-green turtle filled lake to your left that you’ve risked the roundabout for.
A steep and well camouflaged path connects the temple to the lake. There is a path around that makes for a gentle thirty-forty minute stroll. Dodge the bicycles and tandems or hire your own. Cross the suspension bridge to have a little look round that picturesque island and admire the scenery. Get caught in the rain. Catch a ride on one of the little boats. Stop for coffee at one of many cafes on the side of the lake opposite the temple. Just a little further on, vendors sell the usual varieties of street food.
As it came to coffee time, we stopped at the yellow cafe, rather than at the busier and possibly more inviting blue cafe next door. I didn’t regret our decision however, as here I spotted my very first praying mantis.The friendly chain-smoking owner evidently found my fascination completely amusing. He disappeared, chuckling, then returned in a puff of smoke, with a praying mantis of his own that he’d made out of grass.
You’ll be pleased to know that we took it with us, have kept it safe, and it now has a home nestled amongst the top leaves of out houseplant.