Third stop: Hangzhou! Most westerners have never heard of Hangzhou, and indeed, I had not either despite my near-superhuman knowledge of geography. But upon landing at the airport, I was super excited to be there… mainly because I was super excited to be off the plane.
Lucky to be flying them or lucky to be alive? We arrived safely, but I’ll still leave that question unanswered.
I’d also like to point out that you get frisked every time you fly in China. Ain’t nothing like a little touchy touchy to start a trip off right! Anyway…
Hangzhou is another large metropolitan area, with the population of the city and the surrounding region adding up to over 8 million. The city is one of the wealthier and more educated cities in China due to its strong industry. Our tour guide told us that most things we see abroad that are “Made in China” are probably made in Hangzhou. Now, down to business: food. We were on our own for lunch, so my awesome British roommate Joel, sassy Aussie Lauren, and I popped into a famous local restaurant that has a 150+ year history. The menu looked… terrifying. There was a picture of a fish in a bowl on the menu. Yep. Just a big bowl of broth and noodles with a whole fish just lying on top of it – the two ends of the fish hanging over either end of the bowl.
Kill me now.
The “vegetarian” options clearly had some sort of seafood in them from the pictures, so I opted for the one item on the menu with the word “chicken” beside it. It was on the picture-less side of the menu, so it was really a shot in the dark. And survey says:
Score! Oh yes! Chicken and peanuts and capsicum (Aussie lingo for red bell peppers)! And if that wasn’t enough, it came with a big bowl of chicken broth and noodles! I love noodles! One point for Hangzhou!
It was then that we noticed the old man at the table next to us. His finger was so far up his nose I swear he was scratching his brain. And then he spat. Just right there. Spat. In the restaurant. Spat. On the floor.
Hangzhou giveth, and Hangzhou taketh away.
Then it was off to Hangzhou’s largest tourist attraction: the beautiful West Lake.
Ok, so the lake is probably a bit more beautiful when a thick layer of smog isn’t obscuring the view, but still pretty. The lake itself is actually quite large. Our guide estimated it would take 5 hours to bicycle around it or 13 hours to walk. So… we just did a little bit and then turned around.
Once again, I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my favourite American ladies:
And our whole group took in a water show at one of the more touristy corners of the lake.
Hangzhou isn’t big with western tourists, and it was clearly evident from the number of locals (or maybe domestic tourists) taking photos of us as we walked around the lake. We were told that most of them don’t see westerners very often, if they’ve ever seen us at all. There must have been dozens of people throughout the course of the afternoon taking photos of us, some semi-discreetly and others not so much. Some of them even had the balls to ask to get in a photo with us. Finally, I decided that something needed to be done. The next local I saw taking a photo of me – I took one back:
Haha! Take that! ::evil laugh::