Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chilling Lake Side

After the bright lights of big city Nanjing I made my way (by soft seater train no less) to Hangzhou, "the most beautiful city in China" the television advert would have you believe. Hostel was located right on the edge of the lake and was the first hostel so far where there was a majority of travellers rather than Chinese. In fact it was so good that I was even sharing my room with an english boy by the name of Chris. Couple this with the fact that we later met up with heather who I met in Suzhou, Jarrod (her aussie mate) and 2 English girls- Sophie and Bea- we ended up having quite a decent little group for meals,going out and drinking.

Whilst Hangzhou is beautiful there isn't a terrible lot to do there apart from looking at the lake, taking a boat trip on the lake, walking around the lake or hiring a bike to ride around the lake. Take the huge lake out of Hangzhou and it's pretty much the same as anyother Chinese city: temples, bell towers and pagodas. But with the weather being warm and sunny I was quite happy to spend my time relaxing by the lake and enjoying the fine scenary- and when I got bored I went on a fruitless quest to try and buy some shorts. The Chinese seemed to think I was made for suggesting such an idea in spring time.

The First day was spent on a boat trip of the West Lake. Once again I was lucky enough to make friends with a Chinese couple who didn't mind me tagging along with them in exchange for them getting to practice their English with me. After seeing what the lake had to offer and the various islands on the lake we visited the huge pagoda at the side of the lake. Now, whilst most pagodas in China have been rebuilt most of them try to hide this fact. Not this one. This had huge glass elevators and escalators running up and down the pagoda, had computer information points telling you the story of the pagoda and (like many things in China) had parts that were made of plastic! The fact that this pagoda was so unashamedly modern was quite refreshing and the fact that it was probably more commercialised than the Eifel Tower was better than it trying to be something that it wasn't.

The other days were spent relaxing by the lake and catching up with books and the interent. One day the Sophie, Bea and I hired bikes and rode around the whole lake. Which was good fun but at the same time frustrating as so much of the path around the lake was out of bounds to bikes. We got pretty frustrated as police man after police man told us off for cycling and we couldn't help but wonder why so many people recommended cycling this route if you couldn't actually cycle by the bloddy lake. Still it was enjoyable cycling in the sunshine and it was a fun way to spend a few hours.

The last night in Hangzhou (Valentines Night) the group of us all met up for a meal at a resturant the girls had seen on the Lake. We then went to a German Bar which was giving away free beer for Valentines for one whole hour. The bar brewed its own beer and had 2 or 3 different types coming in small, medium and large. Jarrod lead the way in the man states managing to pile away around1 every 10 minutes for the duration of the free period. I was next managing an impressive 4 large beers and I think Chris gave up at 3-but after those we will feeling quite hammered. We then headed onto SOS which is the main night club in Hangzhou and after that the night starts getting a bit shady, but I do remember Chris dissappearing for an awfully long time and then re-appearing just as we were all congregating to go home- wierd!

Next Stop Shanghai and time to meet up with Clare again!

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