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IMG_1345After a night in Suzhou we headed two hours by train further southeast to Hangzhou – a city of 8 million people. And big it is! Luckily the top charm of this otherwise typical chinese city is West Lake located on the edge of all the population madness. We were looking forward to some time in a green environment after having spent the majority of our time in cities. It took us one hour and fifteen minutes on a bus to reach our hostel from Hangzhou East train station which size and layout is not smaller than an airport of a middle sized European capital. Our place was nestled in the middle of green lush that surrounded the south and west part of the lake, east part being lined by fancy promenades with top end restaurants, hotels and luxury retail outlets. 

The hostel we selected to stay in initially for 2 nights is called Tour’an Backpackers hostel and our recommendation along with the review you’ll find on Tripadvisor. It is a really cozy family kind of place where one must enjoy just hanging around in the common room receiving occasional free beers. After the first day exploring the area, we were clear that we want to stay longer and we extended our stay by 2 more nights.

DSC_0123Hangzhou West Lake is surrounded by green hills which house a myriad of temples, springs, creeks and pavilions perfect for all-day-long walks with breaks in some of the many teahouses. Besides that – and to Mark’s great happiness – the area is very good for biking. Not only the roads are fairly bike-friendly and most of the routes quite flat, the city has set up a very cool public bikes network across the city and tourist spots. To ride one of the red public bikes (do not expect gears or any fancy stuff) you need an electronic card which can be obtained for deposit of 200 yuan (25 euro) in most of the renting points. Once charged with another 100, you can rent them and return them to any of the renting points you want. The best thing is, the rental fee is almost nothing: 1st hour is free (so yes, you see many people swapping bikes at different stations roughly every hour), 2nd hour is 2 yuan and 3rd one 3 yuan etc… At the end you get back your deposit and whatever you haven’t spent. Awesome!

DSC_0100On our first day we made an unsuccessful trip to the local tea museum: We enjoyed the walks through the tea hills very much, have seen the Buddha’s Hand fruit here for the first time, walked through a wonderful hill village, but it was Monday and the museum was closed. For once we didn’t prepare well! Lucia went back on our last day and enjoyed an exhibition covering everything around tea – from preparation, types, to serving and tea benefits.

DSC_0039The next day was biking day. Or should we say slow-round-the-lake-cycling day… After our morning trip to the train station to postpone our tickets by two days we first stopped by at the West Lake museum that at the moment housed an exhibition of US army photographs covering their mission in China during the war against Japan. All with original English captions and a video – it was really interesting to also see how back then US soldiers saw China and the life here. Afterwards we hopped on our public bikes and took the Su Causeway that runs across the lake from the south to the north and was built one thousand years ago along with its six bridges. The causeway was crowded with people, tandem bicycles and electric carts transporting even more tourists. However when we relaxed on one of the many benches with the lake view we felt like it is only us.

imageOn the third day we split for the first time on our trip: Mark mountain-biked into the tea hills, across the ‘Nine creeks’ and along the riverside enjoying the beauties of the area and Lucia went back to explore the tea culture. The night belonged to Mark only too! With a few other hostel guests and two of the hostel staff the Hangzhou night scene went wild. The student bar they went to had an interesting way to attract its Chinese high-spenders. Similarly to what we saw on selected days in Bahrain when bars attract spending men on women sipping on free drinks during ladies nights, here the bait were foreigners! A free bottle of local whiskey with soft drinks is to make foreigners have fun and make the bar a cool place to hang out. We found this really amazing and amusing.

DSC_0017DSC_0090Other than walks in the neat green parks we also saw and ate some weird stuff e.g. we saw dried duck tongues and dried whole ducks at a night market, ate Beggar’s chicken packed and baked in a leaf (head and feet included), bought Buddha’s Hand fruit (which we had to throw out moulded unfortunately in the end), ate crabs and crayfish, saw a pomelo tree and watched older people line-dance. We will keep on experiencing awesome new things in our next destination, Xiamen, which will be also our last stop in China.

The pictures from Hangzhou we liked the most are uploaded here.

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Po jednej noci stravenej v Suzhou sme sa vydali dvojhodinovou cestou vlakom dalej na juhovychod do 8-milionoveho mesta Hangzhou. Najvacsou atrakciou tohoto inac typicky cinskeho mesta je West Lake – jazero polozene na zapadnej strane. Uz sme sa tesili na nejaky cas straveny v zeleni potom, co sme travili vacsinu casu v mestach. Z vlakovej stanice tak velkej a strukturovanej ako stredne velke europske letisko sme po hodine a stvrt dorazili do nasho hostela. Nachadza sa uprostred hustej zelene, ktora obklopuje juh a zapad jazera, zatialco na vychode sa pysia luxusne promenady s luxusnymi hotelmi, restauraciami a znackovymi obchodmi.

Hostel, v ktorom sme planovali stravit 2 noci sa vola Tour’an Backpackers hostel a nase hodnotenie je znova ulozene na Tripadvisore. Tento prijemny hostel s rodinnou atmosferou je skvelym miestom na oddych a prilezitostne pivka zdarma v prizemnej restauracii/spolocenskej miestnosti. Uz v prvy den, po tom, co sme presumali blizke okolie sme mali jasno, ze ostaneme 2 noci navyse.

Hangzhou West Lake jazero je obklopene zelenymi kopcami, v ktorych stoja chramy a tradicne pavilony, rastu cajovnikove kricky a pramenia riecky. Prechadzky sa tu predeluju zastavkami v pocetnych cajovniach. A navyse – k Markovmu velkemu poteseniu – okolie je vybornym miestom na bicyklovanie. Nie len, ze cesty su vybavene pruhom pre cyklistov a vacsina z trati ide po rovinke, mesto je navyse vybavene sietou verejnych bicyklov. Aby ste si mohli nejaky pozicat (neocakavajte ale prevody ani ine vymozenosti), potrebujete elektronicku kartu, za ktoru zaplatite na niektorych zo stanovisk bicyklov 200 yuanov zalohu (25 EUR). Nabit si ju musite s dalsou stovkou a mozete zacat jazdit. Vratit bicykel je mozne na akomkolvek mieste. Najlepsia na tom je cena: prvu hodinu sa jazdi zdarma (a tak sme videli mnoho cyklistov vymienat bicykle zhruba kazdu hodinu), druha je za 2 yuany, tretia za 3 atd. Na zaver, ked kartu vratite, dostanete naspat to, co ste neminuli. Jednoduche a skvele!

V nas prvy den sme absolvovali nepodareny vylet do cajoveho muzea. Uzivali sme si prechadzky kopcami plnymi cajovnikovych krickov, videli prvykrat ovocie Budhova Ruka, potulovali sa dedinou na kopci, ale kedze bol pondelok, muzeum bolo zatvorene. Raz sme boli nepripraveni! Lucia sa do muzea vratila znova o tri dni. Muzeum ma celkom kvalitnu expoziciu aj s anglickymi popiskami a obsahuje informacie o historii, typoch caju, sposobe pripravy ci o servirovani a o benefitoch na ludske zdravie.

Dalsi den bol nas cyklisticky den. Alebo lepsie povedane den pomaleho promedadovania sa okolo jazera na bicykli. Po rannom vylete na stanicu, kde sme si vymenili listok za neskorsi, sme vystupili pri West Lake muzeu, v ktorom mali vystavu fotografii americkej armady z ich misie v Cine pocas vojny proti Japonsku. Vsetky fotky mali povodne anglicke poznamky – bolo zaujimave citat o tom, ako v tej dobe americki vojaci vnimali Cinu a jej ludi. Po muzeu sme nasadli na verejne bicykle a vybrali sa na Su Causeway, cestu, ktoru spolu s jej siestimi mostikmi postavili pred tisic rokmi a ktora pretina jazero zo severu na juh. Cesta bola preplnena turistami, tandemovymi bicyklami a elektrickymi autickami, ktore prevazali este viac turistov. Napriek tomu, sediac na lavicke s vyhladom na jazero, sme mali pocit, ze sme sami.

Nas treti den sme poprvykrat na tomto vylete stravili separatne: Mark sa vybral na horskom bicykli do cajovych kopcov, cez ‘9 potokov’ a popri rieke uzivat si krasy prirody a Lucia sa vratila do tentokrat otvoreneho muzea caju. A vecer bol tiez solo pre Marka! S niekolkymi hostelovymi hostami a dvoma z personalu to roztocili v ruchu velkomesta. Studentsky bar, v ktorom boli, mal zaujimavy sposob, ako nalakat rozhadzovacnych cinanov. Nieco podobne sme videli uz v Bahrajne, ale tam sa lakali chlapi, ktori minu v bare viac penazi, na zeny, ktore kedze dostavali vybrane drinky vo vybrane dni zdarma prichadzali vo vacsich mnozstvach. V Hangzhou dostavaju cudzinci zadarmo cele flasky lokalnej whiskey a nejake nealko, aby bar vyzeral cool pre cinanov! Zaujimave a zabavne!

Okrem prechadzok v upravenych zelenych parkoch sme samozrejme znova videli a jedli nejake tie zaujimavosti, napriklad: videli sme susene kacacie jazyky, ci susene cele kacky, jedli “Zobrakovo kura’ – kura zabalene a pecene v liste (spolu s hlavou i nozickami!), kupili se si Budhovu ruku (ktoru sme ale bohuzial museli plesnivu vyhodit), jedli sme kraby a male racky, videli pomelovy strom ci pozorovali postarsich ludi hromadne tancovat. Dalsie zazitky nas cakaju v nasej dalsej destinacii, v meste Xiamen, ktore bude zaroven nasou poslednou zastavkou v Cine.

Vyber fotiek z Hangzhou je tuto.

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One thought on “Hanging out in Hangzhou

  1. Pingback: Xiamen’s seaside | Take it and go

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