A day in Hangzhou, China
The last two months have been a blur of activity and gone by so quickly. I recently moved to Shanghai on a short term engagement and since then my world has changed in every aspect possible. I’m living in a city where English is rare, chicken feet, stinky tofu and intestines are sought after delicacies, the metro is always filled to the brim and things such as blonde hair is considered exotic.
It’s been great. In fact, it’s been a life changing experience – one that I will always treasure and remember.
Shanghai is a city that never sleeps. Housing 23 million people according to the most recent Government release, this bustling place is very quickly becoming the financial hub of China and the East. Business is flourishing and the results are reflected in new developments growing at an alarming rate, continuously rising prices in the house market and the continuous influx of more expats that come to live and work in this exotic place.
But not only Shanghai offers magic in this region. I recently had the experience to venture to Hangzhou, house of the well known Longjin tea and West Lake, located approximately 110 miles from Shanghai and this post really revolves around this lovely gem. The city, one of the oldest in the country and the original capital of China during the Qing dynasty is known to many Shanghainese to represent paradise.
And paradise it is indeed.
Hangzhou offers the tourist everything that Shanghai can’t: Majestic mountains, a cool mountain breeze, a fantastic lake with a celestial feel and a certain level of peace and tranquility not found anywhere else in this region. Hangzhou is worth the trip. So when you plan your next visit to Shanghai, save one day and go to Hangzhou to experience this beautiful place and the peacefulness it offers. Follow the agenda set forth below and you will not be disappointed:
Take the speed train from Hangqiao Railway Station to Hangzhou. Start early! There are many things in Hangzhou and no minute should be wasted!
Get on the 7am speed train from Hangqiao station and enjoy a very comfortable 45 minutes – 1 hour ride over to Hangzhou. The train, cruising at a speed of 350km/hour conveniently drops one in the center of Hangzhou, a mere 5 minutes walk from the Lake.
When you get there, rent a bicycle and take a cruise along the lake. Bikes a free – a deposit is required when you get it however reimbursed once you return the bike. Make sure to go up and enjoy the view from Liuhe Pagoda tower, and then bike the walkway back that crosses the center of the lake. Finally, make sure not to miss the broken bridge walk and then slowly make your way back to the city center to enjoy a authentic cuisine at Zheweiguan restaurant.
After an excellent lunch take the taxi to Lingyin temple (which translates as ‘soul’s retreat’) and explore the magnificent carvings in the mountain, the beatiful temples. Take a hike up the hill and enjoy the mystical rain forest and tranquility of the area.
After a day filled with activity take one more ride to taste locally brewed longjing tea. Longjin tea, which translates as ‘dragon well’ tea, is well known accross Asia as one of the best green teas offered from China. Longjin tea is said to have named after a well that contains relatively dense water, and after rain the lighter rainwater floating on its surface sometimes exhibits a sinuous and twisting boundary with the well water, which is supposed to resemble the movement of a Chinese Dragon. I had the privelage to visit this well and taste Longjin tea in one of the local homes. My verdict: wonderful, fresh with low acidity and creamy notes.
If you have time I recommend to stay overnight in one of the bed and breakfasts in the Longjin area. Alternatively make your way back to Hangzhou station and take a convenient train ride back to Shanghai. The train leaves every 20 minutes until 9PM at night.
Have a fantastic trip!