In Heaven there is Paradise, on Earth Hangzhou

A famous quote says: “In heaven there is paradise, on earth Suzhou and Hangzhou” and therefore it was a must to go at least to Hangzhou. The super fast high speed train need a little more than one hour to do the almost 300 km from Shanghai to Hangzhou (top speed 300 km/h). Very impressive indeed.

As so often in China we stayed at a budget chain hotel – this time the Home Inn. These hotels are normally very good value for money and centrally located. So we were quite happy.

Kevin had been in Hangzhou eight years ago and definitely a lot has had changed since then. There were several new shopping streets and the number of domestic tourists had for sure also increased.

The next day it was time to explore West Lake – one of the big attractions of Hangzhou. The lake with its two causeways was indeed very beautiful and despite the hoards of people very enjoyable. However before we stared to stroll along the lake we had a fantastic lunch at Grandma’s Restaurant (which we have had skipped the night before due to the insane queue – if Hazel is hungry you better don’t let her wait ;)). For 150 RMB (which is about 30 SGD) we had a real feast with super tender pork belly and a whole chicken (if we say whole we including feet and head). Nothing to say against a country were you can get half a liter of beer for two to three SGD.

There was a lot of greenery along the lake shore and we enjoyed our afternoon walk along Baidi Causeway which is about one and a half kilometers long. Later on we visited the famous Yue Fei Temple. Yue Fei was a famous general in the 12th century and is a Chinese national hero who stands for loyalty.

We went back to the other side of the lake via the longer Sudi Causeway and afterwards a short bus ride brought us back to the city center where we had some nice sushi for dinner.

The next day we took it slowly. Hazel relaxed in the air-conditioned hotel room while Kevin was relaxing in a park at the lake. For dinner we once more went for Chinese hot pot – which started to be our preferred dinner of choice.

The next day we headed to the Ling Ying Park which is famous for its Buddhas carved into rocks and caves. It was a very impressive and unique sight. As always in China it was almost as fascinating to watch the local China tourists. By no means we mean ill if we say that but it’s just very interesting to see how they (mis)behave. “No touching” signs are for sure ignored and shuffling and spitting is as always very welcomed. Especially fascinating (read “a bit annoying after a while”) are the local tour guides which have a microphone and a small speaker to blast our their message. And as you can imagine there wasn’t only one tour guide but about twenty of them. So don’t hope for peace and quiet. But as always we kept a good attitude and had a lot of fun.

Part of the park is the very big and fascinating Lingyin Si Temple complex. Each temple hosts a few gigantic Buddhas and Gods (some 30 meters in height). In front of the temples a lot of people burnt incense sticks which made the air slightly smoggy.

Hangzhou is, despite the loads of tourists it attracts, a very nice place to spend a few days. Its lake is charming and the nature around it is well preserved which makes it a prime spot to sit down, relax and enjoy some good food (believe us we did). If you ever have the chance we only can recommend it.

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