A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Aussi Di

A visit to Hangzhou

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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.

Posted by Aussi Di 16:39 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Longmen Ancient Village

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There are of course many ancient villages all around China, and most are set up as tourist spots to show visitors a little of the lives of people in history in China.

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It was a 90 minute bus trip from Shaoxing, and the entry to the park was through rice fields that were currently being harvested. Longmen ancient village is midst the mountains of Longmen.

The place was very quiet and there were few visitors - quite a change from most of our visits to tourists spots.

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It is a very large complex and in some places hard to identify the ancient buildings and the more modern ones, but in any case it was very interesting place.

You can see more photos at The Adventures of An Australian English Teacher.

There really is so much to see. At one point we were attracted by traditional Chinese music and we came across a performance of Chinese opera.

Posted by Aussi Di 16:26 Comments (0)

Hangzhou Bay Bridge

The world's longest sea bridge

sunny 34 °C

When the Hangzhou Bay Bridge opened in May 08 I was keen to travel on it. I have only had one opportunity and it was dark by the time we reached the bridge last weekend. However, a spectacular lightening show enabled us to see a little bit more of the bridge. One day I must go in daylight.

It is described as one of the masterpieces of modern architecture. It is an s-shaped stayed-cable bridge with six lanes in both direction linking Ningbo’s Cixi county at the southern end of the bay, and Jiaxing to the north. It certainly reduces the travel time for those folk from the Ningbo area wanting to travel to Shanghai and the other places in the north of the province of Zhejiang.

It is the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world – being 36 kilometers long. Even in the dark we were able to see some of the spectacular bridge work.

To read more and see a picture of this spectacular bridge click here.

Posted by Aussi Di 05:03 Archived in China Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

Leather and Haining

Another place to visit in Zhejiang Province

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Not far from Wuzhen is a great place if you are interested in buying leather goods in China. Busloads of travellers visit from many parts including Hangzhou and Shanghai to the famous leather "market". It sounds very casual and like it would be rows of stalls, but it is in fact a huge shopping centre (mall) with many many shops. On the first sfloor there are mainly bag shops - handbags, luggage, purses, wallets and so forth although at the rear of the girst floor you will find gloves, sandals, toys and other nick Knacks. The shops all look pretty upmarket, and sell many designer brands of bags.

On the second floor are rows of shops selling leather clothes - thousands of leather jackets, skirts, trousers, and more. Some really way out designs too.

As well there are many fancy jackets, mainly of fox fur. (OK, it may not be as popular to wear animal furs these days, but you can look!!!)

On the floor above are more expensive leather items - really for the serious spender. At these shops you can barter. It is great sport. You can come away with some great bargains.

(I bought a great leather bag for 200 RMB - a bargain? It is to me!)

Several months ago I bought my first leather coat - very nice well made outfit.

Behind the mall/complex there are more shops and this is where you will find the Shoe plaza. Sadly my big feet are a curiousity in China and I am unable to find shoes in these markets to fit me. But for standard or small size feet, there are some great buys.

Haining is pretty easy to get to. There are busses and trains from Shanghai and Hangzhou, and many tour groups go there.

Great place. Great Leather.

Posted by Aussi Di 04:42 Archived in China Tagged shopping Comments (0)

Visit to Wuzhen Ancient Water Village

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Wuzhen is a popular spot for tourists to visit. It is in the northern part of Zhejiang province, and is visited by tourists from Shanghai as well as those in Zhejiang and other provinces close by. Souzhou is also another popular ancient water town to visit for tourists, and that is closer to Shanghai.
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It is a good idea to go to these tourist spots during the week, as on Saturdays and Sundays and public holidays the crowds are enormous. As they were when we visited. It was a very hot day too - which did not help as one walked within the crowds to see the various places of interest.

These places are often compared with Venice - as there are many canals, and little boats, with some similarities to the gondolas, ply their way through the canals. The boatman stands at the rear of the boat and with an unusual action propels the boat with a long pole which he deftly manages.

Most people though will walk around the village. There are wonderful gardens at the entrance to the park, and the first view of the ancient village is across water, with the silkworm boat in the foreground.

There are many Chinese and English explanations, though not all places have the English prominently displayed. You need to look out for the entrances of such places as the Wine Factory, Bed Museum and so forth. It is hard to read all the notes with so many people milling around with cameras flashing!

The residents of the village are older, and no doubt used to the crowds. They often leave their doors open so prying eyes can see inside and see how they live. Some are more modern, but others look as if there has been no changes for centuries.wuzhen_trip_027.jpg

Posted by Aussi Di 20:45 Archived in China Comments (0)

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