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Published: June 10th 2012
View of Hai Ning from my hotel
First impression - it looks like Europe
After the Forbidden City, I headed to CAUPD to meet up with my co-workers to head to the airport for our trip to Hai Ning. After we were checked in at the airport, my supervisor took me into the first-class lounge which had fresh fruit juice and REAL toilets with soap and toilet paper. It was so exciting. We boarded the plane around 5pm for an anticipated 5:15 departure. But then shortly after getting on the plane we were told we’d be delayed half an hour due to weather conditions. I guess in Beijing smog counts as a “weather condition”. Luckily I am reading a really engrossing book series so I just kept reading. Then we were told we’d be served dinner…all before taking off. Two hours later, we finally took off. It was such a long time on the tarmac!! The flight itself wasn’t even 2 hours. Anyways, the flight had some turbulence but it wasn’t too bad. And the guy next to me was fine. Of course, the guy across the aisle kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye to make it not obvious that he was staring. And someone else desperately needed a tissue
but this being China he just kept inhaling deeply to send all that snot back down into the depths of his throat. Delicious. But I had my book series. Thankfully.
Anyways we finally landed in Hangzhou and then got on a mini-bus to go to Hai Ning, which is about an hour away. I put on my ipod and enjoyed the fresh air in my face. The hotel we’re at is reeeeally nice. It’s called the Champs Elysees hotel which makes me laugh. The beds are so plush and the shower has WALLS! It’s so luxurious. I’m sharing a room with Gu Min, a young coworker who speaks some English. She’s very nice.
Thursday morning we had an amazing hotel breakfast. It makes me so happy. We then went to Hai Ning City Hall to meet with staff there. The meeting was obviously all in Chinese so I just studied my Chinese notes and tried to learn some more. There was lots of tea so that was good. And it was really good tea – Gu Min tells me it’s special tea for the Dragon Boat Festival which is coming up.
Thursday afternoon we went to Jiaxing,
another city in the region, to meet with staff there. Again, all in Chinese, but there was a powerpoint with pictures so I could follow some of it. We then went on a tour of Jiaxing and got to see this really cool area where there are old houses along the river. It looked like Venice! Really pretty.
We also visited South Lake, which is a famous lake in Jiaxing because it is the birthplace of the Chinese communist party! Apparently they first met in Shanghai but to avoid detection they met on a boat on the lake. There’s now a big memorial hall in honour of that history. The city has protected views of the lake by not allowing high-rise buildings near it – I wish Toronto would do that!!
Both meals on Thursday are reminiscent of this week’s Top 10 – we had big meals in the hotel where there was copious amounts of food on a lazy susan. You spun it around and just grabbed stuff with your chopsticks. Unlike Fernanda’s experience, there hasn’t been alcohol at any of my meals. (I think my supervisor is less of an alcoholic than hers is.) We have
a big group – people from CAUPD (my office) and also a professor and two students from Peking University. Meals are pretty casual so far and people are chatting and laughing…all in Chinese of course.
Thursday evening I went on an adventure with Gu Min and two other young female co-workers to a local grocery store to get some snacks. The girls all wanted watermelon but I pointed out that they didn’t have a knife at the hotel. So thanks to my advice they also bought a knife. We also got some yogurt to have in the fridge. It was a funny adventure.
Back at the hotel, we met with our supervisor, Mr. Yu, to discuss the next day’s plans. We then cut up the watermelon and ate it in the hotel room. It was really funny.
Friday we split into small groups and drove all around Hai Ning to do a land use survey. I guess existing maps are not to be trusted so we had to go see how land was actually being used. We cruised around in a freezing cold SUV and Gu Min was the only person who knew any English in the
vehicle. In the morning, Gu Min and Miss. Man, another co-worker, kept getting out of the car to walk around and they told me I didn’t have to come. But it was so damn boring in the car I decided in the afternoon I would walk around with them. Even though it’s hot and humid here. The morning was a lot of falling asleep but the afternoon was interesting! Hai Ning is a very diverse city. The area our hotel is in is very modern and wealthy and there is lots of new development going on. But the city originally became successful because it has so many rivers and could therefore connect to the port cities around it. So Hai Ning is actually a huge manufacturing hub and the source of a good chunk of all your Made in China clothing. This has obviously brought a lot of wealth to the city. It also means there's a huge lower-middle class that work in the manufacturing industry.
Friday evening was relaxing time. I watched some BBC and learned that the BBC should NEVER report on Basketball. They make it sound as stuffy and boring as cricket.
Saturday we went
Washing the road
that looks more Chinese
to visit downtown Hai Ning which is a really bustling city center – especially on a weekend when everyone is out and about shopping. We first went to a park and I climbed to the top of a Pagoda at the top of a hill and had amazing views of the whole city. I told my supervisor it looked like there was a lot of urban sprawl but instead of cookie-cutter single-family homes it’s cookie-cutter apartments. He told me he thinks Hai Ning is similar to Mississauga. I’m hoping that idea could turn into a research project for me? Something to do…
For lunch we had hot pot and BBQ. It was good but there was way too much food as usual. For desert our grill was transformed into a freezer and we made ice cream! There are photos of this.
After lunch we visited some historical areas in the city center. Hai Ning wants to be recognized Nationally as a tourist location so it’s working on restoring historic areas to get that recognition. With recognition comes investment.
We then were back at the hotel around 3pm which was nice because we were all hot and sweaty
from walking in the incredibly humid weather. Beijing is so dry in comparison!! But at least the air here is clean. Anyways, I took a shower and we had relaxation time. We then went to another hotel for dinner. The food was similar to our hotel but I didn't think it was as good.
Well those are the stories for now. Enjoy the pictures of Hai Ning, it's a pretty interesting place!
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