Stop Hangzhou

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February 27th 2017
Published: June 25th 2017
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Geo: 30.25, 120.17

My flight arrived at midnight. I tried skype calling my hotel but didn't get an answer so I had to do a regular call (35 cents per minute, not awful for 2 minutes). After 5 minutes or so they picked me up at the very end of the domestic terminal (as predicted by the Internet) and took me the 1 km to the hotel. Check-in was quite easy (not predicted by the Internet) and I was upstairs and asleep soon after.

I woke up early and was at the front desk by 5:15am to get a taxi downtown. We stopped at an ATM across the street and then off to Xihu, or "West Lake", one of the most famous sites in Chinese art culture. For over a thousand years it's been developed, with causeways, temples, and bridges.

I arrived before dawn and bought some oreos from a small convenience store, barely distracting the teenager at register playing some game on his phone. I walked over to the lake and began a slow walk to keep warm (and get underway, I had a deadline). The sky had brightened up by the time I was halfway across the Baidi (northern causeway). As promised, there were no tourists around, only the elderly on walks or doing TaiChi. I passed several markers and statues along the way, several of which I couldn't read, and others I photographed so I could look them up later. By the time I was nearly to the end of the Sudi, the hordes of tour groups were just beginning to show up. Unfortunately I didn't have time to visit the nearby towers or hike the upper trails, but I'll save that for a future family trip.

I walked over the long bridge and on up a trail that lead through some fields of grass with the lake on the left and a busy road on the right. When I reached the primary east gate, I went to the road and flagged down a taxi. Off to the airport I went. Immigration took a bit longer as there was no special business class line, but ours was apparently the only mid-day flight so it wasn't so bad. In the lounge I made friends with a US permanent resident (Chinese) who was an entrepreneur in Las Vegas. We talked quite a bit about travel and work. We were seated on opposite sides of row two so we didn't see each other again until the next morning in the SFO arrivals lounge. The 787 business class was as good as I hoped, and I slept about half and watched two movies and read. A good flight overall, and the only one I stayed awake for any stretch on.

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