After countless attempts and all the long battles against my doubts and anxiety of writing and posting, I’m finally publishing my first blog post. Exploring Hangzhou, the capital and the most populous city in Zhejiang province, in this extreme heat should’ve been terribly unbearable, except it wasn’t. It was instead refreshing seeing all these greens and escaping the concrete jungle that is Shanghai. Since I’ve gotten an admission letter from Zhejiang University, I took the opportunity to visit the future city where I’ll be living in for quite a long time and I can’t stress enough how much I am currently in love with Hangzhou.
I find Hangzhou soothing to my soul especially now that I have been experiencing some minor loses in my life. It is such a place of solace with all the greenery. The old and familiar feeling that comes from the preserved architecture together with the new vibe of modernity. I am a city person. And I love those tall buildings racing against each other towards the top, greeting the clouds. I love crowded places and cars and everything in a big city. It excites the extrovert inside of me. Thinking of moving a couple of miles away from Shanghai wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Because the city that I consider home is just an hour away by bullet train. More importantly, the fact that Hangzhou is also a city but one that is calmer made me more excited living here.
Although I am quite unimpressed with this city’s transportation, it isn’t actually that bad since I have Baidu maps that tell me everything I need to know to get around by buses. Hangzhou only has four subway line stations. We took mostly buses to get around. Taxis aren’t that expensive as in Shanghai either, starting from 11 yuan. Humorous as it is, we took the same taxi we rode from the West Lake to Leifeng Pagoda, and then from Leifeng Pagoda to our hotel. We booked our hotel from booking.com, it is also where I usually book hotels for a trip.
Usually, when I travel, food is a less priority. I have no idea why but I don’t get hungry a lot when I’m travelling. While I look at food as a necessity, I can get over occupied. To the point that I only end up with a smoothie and I’m happy to go. Anyway, there are a lot of varieties of food you can choose from. There are restaurants that you need to book for a reservation first. The top suggested foods to eat in Hangzhou are the following:
1 东坡肉 Dong Po Pork
2 龙井虾仁 Longjing Flavored Shrimps
3 叫花鸡 Beggar’s Chicken
4 西湖醋鱼 Sweet and Sour West Lake Carp
5 片儿川面 Pian Er Chuan Noodle
I have visited Hangzhou in a school trip with ECNU on a mid-autumn before (it was cold and I wasn’t adapting very well to it) and I am confused, asking myself right now why I didn’t appreciate this gorgeous city back then? Such a pity, although it is better late than never. Only on the second time of visiting the city, I find that the people here are friendly and approachable too. There was less to no interactions with the locals because we were in a group when we had the school trip. The places we had the time to visit in Hangzhou are:
Leifeng Pagoda 雷峰塔
Located on Sunset Hill south of the West Lake in Hangzhou, China is a five stories tall tower with eight sides, the Leifeng Pagoda. Originally constructed in the year AD 975, it collapsed in 1924 but was rebuilt in 2002. Since then it has been a popular tourist attraction. Inside you can see a small museum about its history.
In October 1999, the provincial and municipal governments decided to rebuild Leifeng Pagoda on top of the ruins of the old one. The new pagoda opened on 25 October 2002. It is composed of a 1400 tonne steel structure with 200 tonnes of copper parts. It contains four sightseeing elevators, and modern amenities such as air conditioners, televisions, and speakers. At the entrance of the pagoda, there are two autonomous escalators to carry visitors to the base of the pagoda. The original base of the pagoda, as well as the artifacts discovered in an underground chamber, are kept in good condition.
There are only a few restaurants and most of them are Chinese noodles. There are small stores that sell drinks, cup noodles, etc.
West Lake 西湖
It’s a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, China. Three causeways divided it into five sections. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake. West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics. It has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, described as having “influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries” and reflecting “an idealized fusion between humans and nature”.
Long Jing Village
A trip to Hangzhou wouldn’t be complete without taking a tour to nearby villages that grow this amazing and one of the best teas in China, Longjing tea, sometimes called by its literal translated name; Dragon Well tea. It is a variety of pan-roasted green tea from the area of Longjing Village. It is produced mostly by hand and renowned for its high quality, earning it the China Famous Tea title.
Long Jing Tea Village
Dong Po Pork (Right)
Sweet and Sour West Lake Carp
The Leifeng Pagoda
Sea of lotus along the West Lake
Gorgeous sunset view from the Leifeng Pagoda.