On March 31st 2018 I decided it was finally time to expand my horizons of Suzhou but stay in China and explore my neighbouring cities after being here for well over two years so I decided to first hit up Hangzhou.
As with most things in China, it did have a few little hiccups but what's a trip without a few hiccups? I didn't realise the popularity of Hangzhou on weekends so where I thought booking my fast train ticket on the Wednesday for my Saturday overnight stay was way more in advance than really needed, turns out this was extremely naïve of me. What could have been under a two hour train trip, ended up being a four hour slow train from Suzhou Main to Hangzhou main. But no worries, I am fairly good at seeing the positives within the negatives and I did indeed. I had a wonderful little bed I got to nap on for my four hours but also was able to watch some beautiful scenery pass by as I made my way to Hangzhou, giving me a nice look at the neighbouring regions.
Arriving in Hangzhou, I decided to save some money so I
Xi Xi Wetlands
The hills are alive with the sound of music
hit the subway up to what I thought was the nearest stop with my handy travellers tramping backpack. This was not quite the case and found myself calling a didi (uber service of China) because I just didn't have the patience in the scorching heat. (Ok it wasn't totally scorching but with the heavy weight of my bag on my back and tired from waking early it was time to just arrive to my hostel).
Once I checked in at my little hostel, I decided to grab some local Chinese food before hitting up the lake. After refuelling on some delicious Chinese traditional noodles, I made my way out to the gorgeous West Lake. Luckily, I scored it super well. The weather was perfect, flowers were blooming and heck there was even blue sky! Apart from the crowds of people which is to be expected in a place like West Lake on any given weekend day especially one as glorious as the day I went, it was absolutely worth it.
After walking for quite some time I decided a change in transport would allow me to see more of Hangzhou as unfortunately I was only there for a
Another day, another tree.
short time so I decided to hire out a bike. I biked along the lake and then down some beautiful roads that was like biking through a pass in New Zealand where you are surrounded trees and bushes on either side. With music in my ears, the wind in my hair and muscles pumping on the cycle, I literally had no cares in the world and it really was just an absolutely fantastic day. However, after a while, I decided it was time to turn around and park it.
I fretted around trying to find a place to put this bike I had hired as I couldn't seem to find where I had got it from and I wasn't sure if it was a bike you could return to just any stand when suddenly in the distance, like God had heard my internal struggles, I saw some laowai in the distance. Foreigners at last! This to me was also an opportunity to find some drinking buddies as I was quite keen to get a drink but solo travelling, you kinda either have to go alone or hope you find someone that is willing to join in with you and
where I was, it was proving slightly difficult to find someone that spoke English.
After introducing myself to them and asking if they knew where I could put my bike, I brought up is there a place we can go drinking and these wonderful mix of people from South Africa and UK said yes they did, they were going there tonight so they invited me along so of course I said, "sweet as". Then I find myself at an awesome chill bar and restaurant called Socia10 Vineyard Bar (highly recommend) downing delicious half priced cocktails at happy hour with a mean bbq. Life was fab!
Then the night really got under way. After drinking a few, we found ourselves at the next bar which was a different atmosphere all together. With great diversity in people and music to dance to and cheap alcohol to get drunk off, I was partying hard like I hadn't in a long time at Libre (another place I would recommend if you're looking for a party scene close to the previous bar mentioned as they are walking distance).
The following day, being hungover as per expected, I was super western and ordered in Maccas (MickyD's to whoever else) for breakfast to my hostel then made my way to Xi Xi Wetlands. Again, the Lord was on my side by shining beautiful light onto the city of Hangzhou with another day of gloriousness. I was able to roam the wetlands with its beautiful flower display without wearing a jacket and really just relax. I highly recommend these wetlands on a not so busy but definitely sunny day if you have the opportunity. It was just drop dead gorgeous especially with the flowers in full bloom. The extent of detail was insane. The gardeners were not just any old gardeners. No, they had actually designed the plants to grow into pictures such as music notes, love hearts, Chinese symbols and so on. It was such a great way to end my quick trip to Hangzhou.
Sadly, it was time to head back to Suzhou but fortunately, I could only buy the first class ticket back due to seats in economy being sold out so I had all the space in the world, five seats in my one compartment and a train trip time of under two hours compared to my four hours there. Such a win.
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