Day 226 (17th April) Hangzhou

9 05 2011

China is a weird and wonderful place that should be experienced before it ultimately becomes westernised, however be prepared for ‘the strange and the bizarre’..!

We woke up in Hangzhou to a lovely spring day. After the close to constant 300C and high humidity, this lovely crisp spring day was greatly appreciated. The previous night’s journey into Hangzhou from the airport was a little surreal. We knew Hangzhou was a big city of 6.5 million, we just didn’t expect the place to be like a ghost town. As our taxi whisked us through the deserted town at11pm on the raised expressway, we passed dozens of what looked like vacant high rise apartment blocks and office buildings. The low fog or probably smog that hung in the cool air made for an eerie welcome to China.

In the morning we hired a very unflattering baby blue tandem bicycle and set off around the man made West Lake. We had hoped to cycle the full 9km around the lake, however due to our numerous stops for photos and general admiration for the place; plus the insane numbers of tourists all made for slow going. We cycled past numerous immaculate lakeside gardens which were awash with white and pink cherry blossom – all very nice.

That afternoon we boarded a high speed train to Shanghai. At 320kph this was once the world’s fastest passenger trains until it was surpassed by the Beijingto Tianjin Intercity. Very smooth, very fast and very impressive! After checking into our hotel on the Bund we still had time for a quick mooch about town. 

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