*shoutout to Seán for posting this for me. I’m having trouble accessing WordPress at the moment*
I am way overdue for a blog update, I’m sorry to say. I haven’t been in the mood to update so I’m behind on three trips now! I’ll try to catch up as soon as possible.
With regard to the Coronavirus; I’ve decided to wait it out and stay in China until (hopefully) the situation improves. I haven’t been near Wuhan (where the outbreak originated) and haven’t been in contact with anyone who has been there. I’m taking precautions – if I go out I wear a mask, keep my hands clean and avoid touching my face – and we are also being checked for temperature every time we enter our housing complex. So if I come up in a fever I’ll probably be immediately taken for medical attention. It’s very unlikely that I’ll contract the virus, and even if I do it’s likely that my immune system is strong enough to fight it off. So please don’t worry too much! We’ve been told that school has been postponed to March at the earliest (due to the virus) so I have an extra month of holiday time. Thankfully we are also going to continue to be paid during that time. (If anyone is curious, my salary is 7500RMB a month, with free accommodation and utilities)
So back to the blog!
I rearranged one of my classes so that I had a string of days off at Christmas (we were given the 25th and 26th off, I moved my single class on the 27th) and I booked a holiday to Hangzhou! This time I was going on my own so I had no idea what I would get up to, but I knew I had to see Hangzhou.
I stayed in another pedestrianised area like in Nanjing, in a hostel. I had some trouble finding the place; be aware that the maps available on Hostelworld.com don’t ever seem to be accurate in China. I took a taxi to the area indicated on the map, then had to wander around asking directions until finally I found the place.
The area was lovely. Lots of shops and market stalls selling all sorts of knick-knacks, jewellery, cups, toys etc. Peppa pig was there right alongside the Monkey King (Sun Wu Kong).
These sugary treats are available too. I haven’t tried them but they look cavity-inducing!
Disney has capitalised on 2020 being the Year of the Mouse. This is a play on the word for mouse ‘Shu’.
The next day I wandered the area, checking out shops, then followed signs to Chenghuang (City God) Pavillion Scenic Area. It’s up on top of a hill just beside the area I was staying. For a small fee (sorry I don’t remember!) you get access to the Pavillion itself. As they’ll inform you at the ticket booth the 1st and 2nd (I think) floors are out of commission at the moment, due to refurbishment, but you can take the elevator to the 3rd and 4th. What a view! The pavillion is definitely worth it. You can get a 360degree view of Hangzhou.
There’s a function room which was set up for a wedding when I arrived. I ordered Long Jing (Dragon Well) Tea and sat with a book overlooking the city. It was a very peaceful few hours. I started and later finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Read it! It’s so good! Even better than the TV show. After a while I even caught a glimpse of the Bride and Groom.
After coming down from the pavillion I wandered around the scenic area for a while. There are multiple temples and buildings to see.
When I finally wandered down from the hill I came out just a few doors down from my hostel! Now that’s good fortune.
What else did I do in Hangzhou? I had my hair dyed!
I walked to West Lake and explored there. It’s a gorgeous area with plenty of places to walk and take pictures. You can see the famous pagoda in the distance. I stopped for tea at a restaurant and was introduced to someone who studied abroad in the UK. After tea I decided to see if I could make it to the pagoda before dark. With some jogging I managed it – only to find that they’d already stopped selling tickets for the day!
I went back to a vegetarian (!) restaurant I passed on the way to the pagoda. I had a lovely meal of Eggplant (called Qiezi), spring rolls and vegetables done with black pepper.
A great sight to see is the West Lake Musical Fountain show which plays each night at 7pm and 8pm. It’s free, but very busy. I took the subway from near my area and arrived around 6.45pm. I had to stand behind a few rows of people. After the first show (about 15 mins of water, lights and music) I went and got an ice cream (in the cold! I know) and came back immediately so as to get a seat for the 8pm show. The music used was different the second time so it is worth seeing both shows if you have the time and patience. There are about 3 rows of seating and then it’s standing only. Get there early to get a seat.
I had a wonderful time in Hangzhou. It might be my favourite city so far. Definitely worth a visit if you ever get the opportunity.