Published: August 3rd 2012July 8th 2012
My flight was to arrive in Hangzhou around 10pm, I have never taken local currency into a country and never had a problem until arriving into China!! The ATM machines didn't work, there were two and neither of them would accept my cards, there was no currency exchange open and no western union!! This had never happened to me! The buses to the city obviously would not accept card, problem! Luckily a lovely guy gave me the money for the bus to the city, I was then hoping I could either take money out in the city or I could walk the 1.5km to the guesthouse.
Unfortunately I couldn't get money out and eventhough I had an address in Chinese and a map I was given the wrong directions. Then I met another very lovely lady who gave me the money for a taxi to my guesthouse, sadly I got in the one taxi who didn't know the area and had to keep calling the guesthouse up and then charged me for the phone calls! I finally made it there around 1am, excausted!
I didn't want to sleep in too late plus I still had the slight problem of
having no money to sought out so after an early start I walked around the area by the guesthouse which was a really nice place to be the first place I see in China. It made me fall in love with China instantly and want to stay here for a few extra years : ) The streets were so pretty and colonial style and after asking at the guesthouse I found an ATM machine that accepted my card : ) Things were going well! I found a busy looking cafe for breakfast but my Chinese was limited to hello so I pointed to what the lady was eating and something that was fried and thats what I had for breakfast I had obviously heard about the famous West Lake and was desperate to see it after living in Queenstown by the lake for so long. I asked at the guesthouse and they pointed me in the right direction. It was about a 15minute walk to the lake through lively Chinese markets and shops (although I'm sure they all sell the same things or at the very least very similar things). The lake was surrounded by beautiful gardens and I chose
a direction and for the rest of the afternoon I walked around the gardens occasionally stopping to relax and people watch. The gardens are clean and there are so many places where you can get something to eat or drink but its all so much more expensive than Thailand. And its sooo hot! There are boats to take you out onto the lakes but they don't seem to harrass you too much and its great to just walk and walk after been in the children's home and not been able to. When it got too hot I headed back to the markets to find some gifts for my future students and teachers, they needed to be Italian or April Fool's day like ish. I had no idea what to buy for 18kids or what kind of money I should be spending, in the end I bought all the kids a boucey ball that lit up and had a fish inside it for April Fool's day and the teachers a candle and necklace. In the evening I found a night food market, it was very different to a food market in Thailand and I just wanted something simple like rice. In
the end I found some sticky rice served in bamboo so chose that, it definately wasn't the most interesting of meals and I'm sure the Chinese food is much better but my stomach says slowly slowly : ) After heading back to the guesthouse I got talking to one of my room-mates then we headed back out to the nightmarket, he had been in China a while and told me what some of the more random looking things actually were.
I had another whole day in Hangzhou and I wanted to just walk and walk again so I headed back down to the lake and went in the opposite direction this time. Again it was a very beautiful walk and I visited a monument by the lake. This involved walking up what felt like hundreds of steps although of some of it there was either an elevator or escalator but it was hot so it felt much more. The views over the lake from the top however were stunning and definately worth the stairs! Inside there were some beautiful pieces of art. After I was starving, I was trying to avoid eating fried food the whole time
but its difficult not to when you see so much of it and can't read Chinese so don't know what else they actually have. I managed to find a cafe where they at least understood drawing pictures helps : ) I ate rice and vegies and the very young waitress was dying to sit down and speak to me. I asked her how she was and instantly she sat down to talk. Her English wasn't very good but she wanted to practice and it didn't seem like she met many people to practice her English with so I sat and spoke with her for a while. Setting back off on my walk was hard work as it was getting hotter and hotter and although there were trees there wasn't so much shade. It started to look like it was going to rain and I knew it would take me around two hours to walk back so I headed back hoping I wouldn't get too wet on the way. Luckily it didn't start raining until I got back : ) The reception staff had booked my train ticket to Shanghai for the following day for lunch time and I chilled in
the guesthouse out of the sun for a while. I wanted to have a look around the area of the guesthouse a little more as it seemed to be a beautiful area so before looking for the night markets and clothes shops I checked it out. Later I wish I had left it as all the walking and heat nearly killed me! But I managed to buy some new clothes and that was the important thing. For dinner I went out with my room-mate to a really good but cheap Chinese restaurant and the food is so much better when you have someone ordering who has been in China a while and knows whats good!
Before I walked to the train station for the train to Shanghai I wanted to visit one of the main shopping streets which I hadn't yet been to. It showed me a different part of the town and although it wasn't run down it definately wasn't as beautiful as the part of town I was staying in!
There are more photos below