I was curios to see if there was a name for 世外桃源 in English. Surprisingly there is one —-called Xanadu, an idyllic, exotic and luxurious place. It was not referring to the essay we all know, but the summer residence of Kublai Khan 忽必烈—-Shang-tu. Huh?
I have not found out how idyllic or luxurious Shang-tu was and my mind is totally blank to call any place my Xanadu. But, I have been to other people’s Xanadu.
First jump to my mind is Hearst Castle in LA. You may have been there. It was built by publisher and politician William Randolph Hearst on a vast land of 250 thousand acres. It sits on a hilltop so steep that you have to take the tour bus to get on it. Every room of the castle has a view of mountain or sea. The castle was filled with antiques and art collections. And a lush garden, a zoo housing exotic animals, and enormous outdoor pool like a renaissance from Roman Empire. Many lavish parties were hosted there. I guess that’s one man’s Xanadu.
2nd one was encountered on a recent hiking trip. I guess it fits the type of idyllic place. It was a state park built next to an abandoned textile mill. Th mill was built by an English immigrant and later expanded his business and had substantial but not enormous success. The elder son wished to preserve the park land for the local community. He bought total 1300 acres of land in his lifetime and donated to state and federal for park development before & after his death. Conserved parkland was another man’s Xanadu.
My readers, if you are ever to build your Xanadu, what will you create?