We had planned a weekend in Hangzhou - I had been before but we'd mainly stayed in the retail area, the Silk Market in particular. I had also walked a little on the path around the West Lake, but it had rained. Sadly it rained again this time so once again our visit was spoiled.
However,all was not lost. We did visit some places around the Lake and we had an enjoyable time.
We had originally planned to catch the train from Shaoxing to Hangzhou - I prefer the trains, that the noisy dodgem road travel even though the buses are modern and comfortable. But when we went to book our train tickets the previous night there was no seating on the train, so we opted for the bus.
It was 25 RMB each way from Shaoxing, and to be fair it was a good trip this time. There was not a lot of traffic on the road at the time we went.
Our first challenge in Hangzhou was with the taxi driver. We have found that in Hangzhou we manage to always find the taxi drivers with NO ENGLISH skills, and no ability to read the map! But a few phone calls and translation via cellphone had us arrive at destination number one, and a lot of pointing and map interpreting had us arrive at destination number two without any trouble.
As it was raining we wandered around the retail area and spent quite a lot of money on silk items, as well as coffee in the places we stopped to rest from the rain.
Mid afternoon we caught another taxi to the hotel where we were staying, on the other side of the lake from the retail area. With the rain and many tourist buses it was chaos. People with umbrellas, taxis, buses, bicycles and private cars created much pandemonium on the roads leading to our hotel. As well there must have been 7 or 8 weddings in full swing, with the usual parade of flower decorated cars making their way through the traffic.
Our driver pulled to one side of the road, pointed across the road, indivating we had reached our destination, so we paid him and scrambled out of the taxi. (Incidentally we had the name of the hotel and the street printed in Chinese courtesy of the hotel when we booked) but that apparently wasn't terribly successful either.
He pointed to a building which did not look like the hotel, the Flower Inn, that we had seen on the internet, but went in anyway. As we had guessed we were in the wrong place, and a kindly lady walked us along the pathway to point out the hotel further up the road. It was pouring with rain too!
We eventually found the hotel, and booked in. They gave us the key and we went to the room - but as it only had one bed and we had booked two - we returned. The staff spoke very little English - but we did manage to get satisfaction quite easily. And the we were directed to a second room. Two beds! Hurrah!
Despite the rain we went for a walk around the area after leaving our luggage in the room. Incidentally the room was excellent. It was clean, the two beds were very comfortable, and it had all in it that we could wish for. The bathroom was excellent - the best shower we have had in months, and all up very good. We would highly recommend it - though we found the lack of English information a challenge! And the restaurant - well OK or those who can read, speak, Chinese and who can negotiate the menu! We ended up in the kitchen directing the chef!
The scenery arond Santai Shan Road was wonderful. Well worth another visit - without the rain!
We dined eventually in a small cafe near the hotel - but it was at best disappointing.
The next day we set out to go to the Silk Museum - but rapidly changed our minds when we saw the chaotic traffic again, so we opted for another walk around the Lake - in the other direction this time.
We have decided that to see Hangzhou properly you need several days. We have decided to return and stay longer, and not at a weekend when so many tourists are there. What we saw of it was great - we enjoyed coffee and meals at most places we visited. Especially the Hyatt Regency where we had wonderful coffee and cake.