Monday, November 4, 2013

Visit To Hangzhou 6 days 5 nights


With my bags full with warm clothing, I was ready for my first visit to China. It was the beginning of autumn so the weather was expected to be cold but still tolerable. 

I was lucky to have gotten the promo fare which cost me only RM250 for a return flight from Hangzhou to KK. The plan was to stay at Hangzhou for one night, two nights in Shanghai, one night in Suzhou and the last night back at Shanghai. Suzhou was a last minute plan, as a friend invited us to spend Octoberfest there. I was not very keen on the idea but it was an invitation we could not evade.
At Xioshan International Airport, Hangzhou, we experienced our first attempt by locals at squeezing money from unexpected, gullible, tourists. A lady that had approached us wanted to sell us a taxi service that costed RMB200. However, I had already done my homework earlier and I knew that it should be less that that amount. True enough, the normal taxi fare was less then RMB80.


I booked us at the new Dongpo Hotel due to its close distance to West Lake. It turned out to be a superb location. Less than five minutes walk. However I can not say much about the location of the room allocated to us. It was on the same floor as the dining room so I expected an unwelcome, unintentional, early wake up call from F & B service team. True enough, the next morning, at 5 a.m., the harsh sound of quickly spoken  Mandarin seeped through the bottom of the wooden door as the service team argued on their daily chores.
The room itself was nice except that the window faced the inside of the corridor so it was not much of a view to go gaga over. 
Not wanting to waste time during our short stay here, we quickly took a walk to see what West Lake looked like at night. It was serene and peaceful. There were a few kiosks that opened along the lake selling snacks and souvenirs. I bought a chinese sausage to fill my rumbling stomach. The sausage was chewy and a little too sweet for my taste so i gave my half eaten sausage to hubby. He finished the whole thing in a wink. 

The next morning we headed out for breakfast. The dining area was small with no empty seats so we took our overladen plate to our room. Finally something positive out of having a room next to the dining area! It was interesting to taste the new food that the hotel served but the taste was too bland for me. 


After breakfast we headed out early to the lake. There were a number of locals doing their daily exercise consisting of tai chi, dancing and even wushu.


The view of the lake in the morning was as beautiful as it was at night. It was a cloudy day but still very scenic.


There were cruise boats parked just in front. We made some inquiries and found out that we needed to purchase a ticket from the ticket booth just a short distance away.


Boat no.8 was the first boat out at 8:30pm so we took that one. There were a number of boat types available. Each boat was unique and had different design from the others. Some were row boats with tables in the middle which looked quite nice. If I had more time I would have probably tried this type as well.





Also alongside the lake I saw a squirrel and pigeon feeding area. A guy with a bucket of water and a long brush wrote Chinese characters on the pavement. The lake cleaner was scouring the lake for rubbish. There were many things to see and lots of photo opportunities but we did not want to wander too far away from our boat.





With a loud honk from its horn, the boat called for its passengers and everyone who was catching the 8:30 a.m. boat boarded.



A lady gave us briefing about the lake. All of it was in Mandarin and both of us did not understand a word. Hubby said she used a different dialect than what he was used too. This lake breeds huge mosquitoes. Cannot imagine the sore after a bite from these mosquitoes.


We passed a few smaller islands which we were informed that you could visit these by taking one of the smaller boats


Our boat finally docked at the jetty of the 3 Mirroring Pools island with the tall temple-not too distant I might add.





Took a picture of a tree laden with fruits the size of pomelos. We do not know if it was edible. No guide to provide an answer. We were on our own...so wander we did. We took many photos. Every garden was beautiful and unique. We imagined ourselves as the emperors that owned this garden-walking and enjoying the scenic view and peace of the place. 









There were a few tea houses too. There was one tea house that had a beautiful parrot. Unfortunately, the owner was rude and did not allow us to take a photograph. :(


Soon we returned back to our starting point and waited for the next boat back. Upon reaching the jetty we decided to take a walk to Hefeng Street. Now if I knew 2km was further than expected I would have taken the taxi. My feet were aching by the end of the day. Not only did we walk to Hefeng Street but also back to our hotel.



Hefeng Street is very interesting. Its an old street dated as far as in the 18th century. Some of the shop owners wore clothing from that timeline just to be in the act.




There were a lot of snack shops and we stopped at one to buy something like a popiah wrapped with tofu (beancurd) skin. It was very tasty but the tofu skin was a little tough. It took some time chewing each mouthful.



Statues and monuments dotted the historical walk. Even locals takes their wedding photos here and you will find a number of couples doing that.





We found a back alley road that sold really cheap shoes and I spotted this cute dog in the middle of the shoe rack.


We checked out of our hotel and head down to the nearest metro. Oh yeah...I forgot to mention that New Dongpo is also very close to the metro. We found a food court at the metro and decided to buy a take out lunch. Chinese pancake and some tanghoon soup. Interesting.


We got to Hangzhou Train Station and bought our tickets to Shanghai. You will need your passport to buy a ticket. The lady at the counter did not speak much English so we ended up with a slow train instead of the express one. This train made many stops and it took us almost two hours to reach Shanghai.

Everything you need to know is written on the ticket and if you do not read Chinese then that will be a slight problem. But once you learn, everything gets easy. Departure gate, Train number, Carriage number and Seat number are the most important things you need to remember.


The carriage number is found on the top side of the front entrance in the train as show in the picture below. Each carriage has the same seat number so do not get the wrong carriage.

Kota Kinabalu to Hangzhou
Hangzhou to Shanghai Part 1
Shanghai to Suzhou Part 2
Suzhou to Shanghai Part 3