Picking up where we left off on my 2011 trip to China: after spending some time in Shanghai, my family and I headed off to Hangzhou, a city located about 2 1/2 hours south of Shanghai. It’s known for its beautiful natural scenery, especially its West Lake, and the surrounding temples and pagodas that complement the nature of central-east China.
We reached Hangzhou where we met our local tour guide who took us around the city– on foot, motorbike, and boat– while discussing the city’s 1000-plus year history. Afterwards, we attended a performance that paid homage to Hangzhou and its culture. Lots of singing, dancing, acrobatic stunts; there were tons of people in the audience, crowding to take photos of the performers (although it was not permitted) and otherwise blocking my view and being super noisy. The show was okay, but I really didn’t appreciate how rude the tourists were (many who were, unfortunately, from mainland China themselves) when the performers were trying to do stunts and them trying to crowd over to take their photo or video-record them. Bad tourists at their finest- not my cup of tea. 😛
After the show ended, we had dinner and went to our hotel, exhausted even though we didn’t do that much that day (just a city tour and show); I think it was because earlier in the day, we were still exploring Shanghai and then had to take the 2 1/2-hour ride over to Hangzhou, which in itself can be draining.
We got some sleep, and woke up the following morning ready to explore Hangzhou for the day. First, we visited the Leifeng Pagoda, one of the iconic monuments in the city. Located on the West Lake, this pagoda was originally built back in the 10th century to celebrate the birth of the son of then-king Qian Chu of Wuyue. It collapsed in 1924 due to neglect but was rebuilt in 2002 and since then has become a popular tourist draw.
We climbed the five stories of the pagoda and got to see the lake and surrounding islands from the top. Although it was overcast that day, I still could see the beauty of the nature around me, and really appreciating what the country overall had to offer (even if Hangzhou’s only a small slice of it).
Next, we toured Hangzhou’s countryside and stopped by a tea garden where a hostess entertained us with the “benefits” of drinking the company’s “naturally-harvested” green tea leaves. She really did put on a good sales pitch, saying that not only were the tea leaves edible (which I don’t quite get why someone would want to munch on tea leaves), but also could go about correcting eyesight (by putting your eye over the tea steam for about a minute to relax it). A bit ridiculous, but the tea didn’t taste so bad, so my parents decided to buy a monster load as souvenirs for my relatives back home. I’m not kidding; we spent a lot just on these tea leaves. I’m not sure if it was $900 USD or 900¥ (about $135 USD), but either way, it was crazy how much we bought!
Had lunch in the countryside, and tried one of Hangzhou’s local dish: beef tendon. Super fatty, but super delicious; of course, I had to stop myself from having more than one piece for the sake of my health! 😛
We left Hangzhou shortly thereafter for our next destination, and although it was a short, one-night stay, I found the place to be naturally beautiful and culturally enriching with its pagodas along the gorgeous West Bank and whatnot.
More stories coming up soon! Stay tuned for the next destination, where we’ll be hiking the mountains in Huangshan, China! 😀
— The Finicky Cynic
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