November 16, 2013

A short trip to beautiful Hangzhou

During my mum’s second week in Shanghai we decided to go on a short trip to Hangzhou where we stayed for one night. With the fast train it only takes about 1,5 hours from Shanghai to get there and it was definitely worth seeing that place. Hangzhou is known for its Westlake at which we spend our first day. We started from our accommodation that was located directly at the Westlake and walked along the promenade for a while before we got on one of the boats to get to a little island. We weren’t expecting much so it was surprising for us to see the landscape from there that is printed on the one RMB banknote. Since there otherwise wasn’t a lot to do on that island we decided to get a portrait drawn by one of the artists there. It only took about ten minutes but during that time there were already many Chinese gathering around me and taking pictures again. The portrait turned out nicely but since it didn’t really look like me we started to bargain so in the end we actually only had to pay half price and that were only about 5 €. After getting back on the mainland on the opposite of Westlake from where we started, we took a little touristic train to get to the next attractions. There we looked at a temple, different bridges and gardens, did some shopping and had a great coffee at Starbucks where we got to know some very nice retired Chinese men, with who we talked for at least 30 minutes. Considering the fact that very often it is difficult to find English speaking people in Shanghai even among the young Chinese it was surprising to me that they spoke and understood English fluently. We had fun talking about their earlier jobs, their visits to Europe and many other topics. After this memorable break we took a bus to get back to the city so that by the end of the day we had surrounded Westlake with different means of transportation. And at night the Westlake and its promenade look especially beautiful as there are lights everywhere, people are gathering for dances on the street and we even got to see a little water show.
The second day we took a taxi to the surrounding area of Hangzhou where we got to see lots of tea plantations, which I hadn’t really seen before. This was very interesting and it was especially nice that we were almost the only people around so that we were able to enjoy the peace for a little while before going back to busy Shanghai in the afternoon. The only people we did meet on the way were different Chinese couples who got their wedding pictures taken. Those couples really seem to be everywhere – we had fun watching them leaning against trees or being placed in a little pavilion. 

Another Highlight: I tried Chinese calssical dance on the street with an older man who was at least one head shorter than me and there were only natives around - it was lots of fun and the Chinese where happy I joined them :)

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