Life Of Hángzhōu

Like London, Hángzhōu has a bicycle scheme for its citizens to get from A to B. Unlike London, the city’s mayor, Shao Zhanwei, hasn’t rode around on one making a fool of himself, like Mr Johnson. Bicycle is the only way to travel in China’s huge cities, over our four days in Hángzhōu we averaged 20km a day on these rickety old things, also we were eye witness’ to half a dozen crashes, which is the norm in the Chinese bike lanes…

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Marco Polo had visited Hángzhōu in the 13th century and noted that while its circumference was only 100km, its waters were vaulted by 12000 bridges. That is because it is sat beside the enormous and dreamy West Lake. Inspiring artists and poets for centuries whilst housing thousands of species of flora, numerous pagodas, gardens, islands, causeways and temples, West Lake really is wonderful. A couple of days were spent cycling aimlessly around the lake, and chillaxing in the first bit of warmth we’d experienced in months…

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Heaven Above, and Hángzhōu below

Lin Bu, an influential poet from the Northern Song dynasty, lived the final years of his life by West Lake as a recluse, and still rests here today

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Lin Bu’s Grave

The south of the lake is the location of Hángzhōu’s botanical gardens and the China tea museum. We we looked at everything tea, from ancient tea pots and cups to learning about the tea making process. The PG tips monkey was sadly, nowhere to be seen…

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Tea Plantation beside the museum

Thanks to our friend Zhao Wei, we got to taste some delicious new fruit in Hángzhōu, such as an unnamed ‘purple thing’ and ‘a big orange’. In the supermarket we saw some rather unusual food for sale, such as live soft shelled turtles. The turtles are considered a delicacy in China and are normally only eaten at special occasions, turtlely discussing if you ask me…

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Zhou Wei buying the purple things

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Packaged soft shelled turtle

Staying with the Ang Lee theme, we decided to end our visit in Hángzhōu by watching his latest flick, Life Of Pi. Having read the book years ago, I forgot how amazing and imaginative the story actually is, which ending do you believe? Only that wasn’t the end of our time in Hángzhōu. Thanks to not realising there is more than one train station, we turned up at the wrong one and missed our train to Changsha. But, like Life Of Pi, I believe everything happens for a reason. If we hadn’t missed our train, then we would not have witnessed our first Chinese punch up. Outside a street stall which looked like some kind of post office, we saw two skinny, middle-aged, Chinese men, slap each other about and scrap on the pavement like school boys fighting over pogs, truly life changing.

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Gongchen Bridge over the Grand Canal

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