After a crazy Friday night out (you know it’s a good night when you lose your dress), and the subsequent full day of recovery, we are finally able to get out of bed and do some exploring around Hangzhou.
All the details: Hangzhou
Getting there: Fly into Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, and then take a taxi to your accommodation from the rank out front. There are a number of buses also servicing the city, but it’s quite a challenge to navigate these unless you speak Mandarin.
What to do: While in Hangzhou, sample tasty Chinese nibbles like “glutinous rice dumplings” at the dozens of restaurants surrounding the University (or, better yet, the street vendors selling inexpensive stir fry); visit the beautiful Linjyin Temple complex and light a stick of incense; explore scenic West Lake and its many pagodas; or shop for tea and other local souvenirs in Old Town.
Top tips: Hangzhou is actually a lovely city that is incredibly underrated as a tourist destination, so spend extra days here to enjoy the clean(ish) air and the stunning scenery before moving on to Beijing and Shanghai.
My dear friend from the airplane, Trench, picks us up in the morning and takes us to a massive feast at a restaurant near his alma mater. The highlight of the meal is this magnificent gummy soup dish that I fall in love with.
I can’t say the Chinese name, but the literal translation is “glutinous rice dumpling in sweet rice wine”, and I honestly don’t think anything has ever been more appropriately named than this dish. I’m not sure if I want to eat it or roll in it.
After stuffing our faces with glutinous rice dumpling and other delights such as “cold beef meet”, which is so hot I burn my tongue on the first bite, and “Chinese yam”, which is 100% not a yam, we drive on to the famous Linjyin Temple to explore. Trench is probably the most confused person in all of China, and manages to get us lost about 9 times in between the carpark and the temple, but we do eventually make it.
The complex is giant, and we probably only see half before it starts bucketing rain and we give up, but it is so impressive. There’s this one massive Buddha that looks a bit sleepy, but in a soothing way, and we stand there staring at him for ages.
After burning myself numerous times on the incense sticks out front, we enter the main temple and watch for probably near an hour while the monks sing/read/chant from this ancient text. It seems boring, but it’s almost trance-like how perfectly timed their recitation is and there is an occasional gong bang, which keeps things interesting.
On our way back to the car, we stop at Starbucks (hark!) and Trench buys frappuccinos for us and I am so thankful that I did not have to shell out 39CNY myself. Aka $8AUD. Who can afford that? Trench, apparently, who willingly shares that he makes $150,000 “in only one year”. Congrats. We all sit down to enjoy our drinks and have a great conversation with Trench about his fiancé before it’s time for more photos (Trench absolutely loves a good photo, and probably has about 50 photos of me and Becka on his phone from the 2 days that we’ve known him).
After a lovely day with our new friend, I can’t wait to see more of Becka’s surprisingly beautiful city, and we spend the next week exploring Old Town and its numerous temples and indulging in all the street food we can physically fit in.