After two weeks of living in Hangzhou, I finally got the opportunity to go and do some of the touristy things around the area thanks to a colleague of my Dad’s.
Qin Shu picked me up at 9am from outside my uni, and we headed to see Xiang Lake, a famous lake just outside of Hangzhou. Apparently it’s three times the size of the West Lake, and it was amazing! It also attracts less tourists than the West Lake because it sits just outside of Hangzhou rather than near the main city.
We then headed back into Hangzhou to a massive shopping centre in the middle of the city. The shopping centre isn’t even the biggest one here and it was at least twice the size of Macquarie Centre! We had lunch at a restaurant that serves traditional Hangzhou cuisine. Luckily Qin Shu has spent time with my father and she remembered that Australian people don’t eat very spicy food very often, so she stuck to the milder dishes for my sake. The food was quite good, although as with everything here it’s cooked in a ton of oil. Actually it was so good I forgot to take photos, sorry everyone!
After lunch we went to the Leifeng Pagoda, which sits above Hangzhou in the mountains. The original building was around 3000 years old, and you can still see some of the ruins inside from when it finally collapsed in 1924. The newest incarnation was built in 2001 and features escalators and lifts for the sake of the hordes of tourists who visit.
After spending a couple of hours at the pagoda, we headed out to the most famous site in Hangzhou, the West Lake. The West Lake dates back to the Qin dynasty of 221BC (yes, we are talking BC here). Marco Polo himself passed by the West Lake and noted in his diary that there were 12,000 bridges connecting various parts of Hangzhou. So it’s pretty old. Unfortunately China is not known as a peaceful country, and multiple invasions of Hangzhou mean that most of what you see today is of modern construction. They have tried to keep to the traditional Chinese themes, with pagodas and lotus blossom trees everywhere.
To end our day, Qin Shu decided that we should have some Western food for dinner! She told me that she knows Western people get sick of eating Chinese food so she always takes them to Pizza Hut. And can I say, it was the best Pizza Hut I’ve ever had! We had a salad to start, pizza, pasta and steak for the mains and some delicious tropical juice thing to finish. Normally I am not a fan of Pizza Hut but it was quite good over here.
So finally I have seen the touristy side of Hangzhou. It is a very nice city and I think it was a good choice to come here rather than to Beijing or Shanghai – they may be bigger cities but I think the lifestyle in Hangzhou is nicer.