Posted by: daradoodle | December 1, 2008

Hangzhou (杭州)

After all of the confusion with booking travel arrangements during the National Holiday, I figured it was time to take another stab at getting out of Shanghai. This time the destination would be Hangzhou (杭州), a lush green city located an hour and a half south of Shanghai via train.

My awesome Chinese gal pal, Jue, assisted Charlie, Poppy and I with purchasing the appropriate train tickets and I booked the hostel online. We were set to go!

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Charlie, Me & Poppy on the train

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On Friday afternoon we departed Shanghai and arrived in Hangzhou just before 5 PM. The train station’s queue for taxis was massive, so we walked up to street level to hail our own cab. Empty taxis kept passing us and we couldn’t figure out why. After walking for about 10 minutes, we finally flagged down a car. We got in and the cabbie told Charlie that they’re not supposed to pick up people around of the train station. Apparently the massive queue inside of the station is the designated point for pick up. Thankfully, our cab driver was cool enough to take a walk on the wild side and stop for us. What a rebel.

When we reached the Backpackers Tour An Hostel, Charlie told the cabbie that he was his favorite driver in all of China. I’m not quite sure how the driver took the compliment, but Charlie was happy that he got his point across in Chinese.

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Backpackers Tour An Hostel

Charlie

Charlie in our room

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Poppy didn't have to go to Xian to have her picture taken with a warrior

Although our room was on the damp and moldy side, the hostel staff was nice and helpful with information… except our first night when we were given directions to a night market.

We got on a bus that would allegedly take us to an area with a night market and restaurants. After about 30 minutes on the bus, I still didn’t see a night market… or a restaurant. We decided to get off and ask around. No one knew what we were talking about. Fair enough. We needed to eat!

A lady walking to meet some friends for dinner told us to follow her. She brought us off the main road, through a gravel parking lot, around a cinderblock wall, to a massive open air seafood market. I’d never been to a dining establishment quite like this, but I was willing to give it a shot.

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Poppy is a vegetarian and there were no menus at this place. Due to our lack of Chinese vocabulary, Charlie and I proceeded to be the live entertainment for all of the patrons by walking around and pointing out dishes that looked good. Everyone including the three rather tipsy men sitting at the table next to us got a kick out of the white folk ordering food. While we were waiting on our last dish to come to the table for what seemed like an eternity, one of the men at our neighboring table said that he wanted to pay our bill. This was quite confusing because we hadn’t even held a conversation with the guy. Next thing we know, his friend is pouring some type of whiskey into our glasses. After a bit more back and forth discussion, we surrendered and let the guy pay our bill on the condition that the boys took a picture with us. And here it is…

Our new friends

Our new friends

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Ganbei (干杯)!

After dinner we took a cab over to the popular tourist destination, West Lake (西湖). Rachel from Birmingham, Alabama met up with us at a teahouse / lounge where we sipped on a few of the local brew, Siwo. We ended the evening early to prepare ourselves for a fun filled Saturday.

The hostel’s kitchen served up a solid Western style breakfast. After two strong cups of coffee, bikes were rented and we began pedaling to our first attraction.

Charlie & Rachel ready to bike Hangzhou

Charlie & Rachel ready to bike Hangzhou

Nestled among tea orchards, the China National Tea Museum shares the long history and traditions of tea in China. I learned that in 1940, Fudan University was the first institution of higher learning to start a Tea Department to train qualified scientists and technicians in tea disciplines. Graduates of this program are said to be the “backbone of China’s Modern tea industry.”

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China National Tea Museum

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HUGE tea cake

HUGE tea cake

Charlie, Poppy and Rachel took part in an interactive portion of the museum by operating the “Machine of Twisting Tea Leaves.” Common in south Auhui Province, this large device made up of four wooden barrels breaks up and shapes tealeaves when operated by manpower.

!!!AMBASSADOR DOODLE VIDEO EXCLUSIVE!!!

Watch these tea grinders in action.

We hopped back on our bikes and pedaled up hill to the Longjing (龙井茶), or Dragonwell Tea Village. Breathtaking views of hillsides covered in tea plants gave us reason to stop for lunch. We dined at the home of a local family where the lady of the house invited us inside her kitchen to select our food. This meal was probably one of the freshest I’ve eaten in China. Have a look. dsc00327

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Longjing Tea (龙井茶), the popular local tea

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Back on the trail, we found ourselves on rough terrain. Charlie dared me to ride through a rocky creek along the path. I took the challenge and surprisingly, made it through in one piece!

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Charlie's turn to be a daredevil

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A man selling sweet treats along the path

Before reaching the Li’an Temple (理安寺), we came across a beautiful waterfall and had to stop for few photos.

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And yes... I was splashed quite a bit while posing for this photo

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We journeyed up a steep and winding set of stairs that led to the Li’an Temple (理安寺). When we reached the top we discovered more of a construction site than a historical monument. As you can see below, the scaffolding keeps Abbot Tiger Tamer company.

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The next stop was the Liuhe Pagoda (六和塔), or the Pagoda of Six Harmonies. Located south of the West Lake at the foot of Yuelun Hill facing the Qiantang River (钱塘江), this pagoda stands 59.89 meters high. The “six harmonies” come from the six regulations of Buddhism; north, west, east, south, heaven and earth. When viewed from the outside, the pagoda has 13 stories, but on the inside there are only 7 stories. This was my favorite attraction of the day.

View from the top of the pagoda

View from the top of the pagoda

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After a second attempt to reach the darn night market, the night capped off with a Chinese dinner followed by a few hours of KTV.

Poppy singing KTV with our friends from the hostel

Poppy singing KTV with our friends from the hostel

I'm going to guess that they were singing a Boyzone song

I'm going to guess that they were singing a Boyzone song

Our train back to Shanghai wouldn’t leave till Sunday evening, so we had time to stop off at the Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺). The major draw to this temple are the Buddha carvings in the side of Feilai Feng (飞来峰), a pure limestone mountain. Of the 330 carvings, the most poplar is the Laughing Buddha. They say that Buddha’s belly is so big because that’s where he keeps all of the world’s troubles. At least someone’s trying to stash them somewhere!

Me & Laughing Buddha

Me & Laughing Buddha

Buddha carvings

Buddha carvings

Hail to Buddha

Hail to Buddha

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Lingyin Temple

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Hangzhou is a great place for a weekend get away from Shanghai. My first trip away from China’s hustle and bustle was a success!

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Responses

  1. Natural beauty is always seeing beautiful….

  2. Hangzhou is definitely a place to fall in love.
    Love that city! Miss LongJing Tea!


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