Hangzhou

Hangzhou is such a beautiful place! I’d heard from a few people that it was boring, and that there wasn’t much to do there. In Guilin I had a really pretentious American in my room who said that she ‘did Hangzhou’ in an afternoon. So when I arrived here, my expectations weren’t overly high. But it’s such a nice and perhaps affluent area… there’s Aston Martin, Lambrogini, Ferrari shops (not that I know anything about cars), designer streets, and everything is just generally a bit cleaner. When I arrived at the train station on Sunday, I felt like I was back in England- I went to the hostel in a London black cab style taxi, and the car park we drove through was identical to Gunwharf Quays parking! My hostel is right next to West Lake, which I walked around most of Monday. It was soo hot on Monday so it was a perfect day for it really. I took too many photos, but it was just such a beautiful place- it sounds weird but it kind of reminded me of Salcombe/Emsworth, just one of those places that will always be pretty. After this I went to Wushan Square, which had tons of shops and market stalls so spent a couple of hours looking around there, trying to persuade myself that I don’t need any more bags or jewellery which was hard 😦

The next day, I went into a different part of Hangzhou with 2 of my roommates and their 3 friends. Chinese boys and girls don’t tend to share rooms, so in hostels they’re often seperated even if they arrive together. They had cycled here from Nanjing which took 3 days! It was horrible pouring rain on Tuesday, so it was weird to see how different the weather could be between 2 days. We went to Hangzhou Restaurant (imaginative name), and one of the dishes we had came out in a large brown shell, a bit like a coconut. Anyway I didn’t really know what was happening, but then the chef brought out a hammer and it was clear that someone had to take the hammer and open the shell. They all pointed at me so I had to do it! I thought you had to open the shell with the hammer three times, so I was proper whacking it until it split open. Later on when I saw other tables doing it, they were just slightly tapping it instead, as I think I was supposed to do. Woops. So once the dish was open, in true Chinese style there was a fully cooked chicken in there! It was really tasty, although ‘Aha’ (one of the guys) eating the head didn’t look so appetising. After this, we went back to the hostel. They went to a nearby museum, but I went to Running Tiger Springs which had been recommended to me by a friend. It wasn’t raining as heavily by this point, so it was still a nice trip for an hour or so, even though once again I seemed to be a tourist attraction as much as I was a tourist. I spent about an hour there, then tried to get a taxi back. But no taxi would take me, because they said it was too short a distance for them, even though I’d gotten one there okay! I ended up walking the entire way back- it may not have taken long in a taxi but it still took me a good hour to walk! Luckily I’m usually pretty good whilst travelling as I can remember which lefts and rights to take and notice signs and certain shops. So I didn’t get lost at all, but my feet were soaking by the end 😦 I went back to Wushan Square for dinner, and spent a bit more time trying NOT to buy anything again. My roommates had invited me to go to a church with them to ‘sing songs’ but I’m glad I didn’t go, because when they got back they said it was really boring as they were just spoken to for 2 hours and only sang 2 songs πŸ˜›

I also have lots to sort out for when I get back home. At the moment, I’m a bit torn as to what I want to do. Part of me really wants to live in Portsmouth, as I’ve always loved the place and there’s lots of good family history there. But I also had a great 3 years in London, and would like a SW postcode again. But I’m the sort of person who wouldn’t stick it out at a job unless I really enjoyed it, which I know is a rarity to find, so that’s why I’m also contemplating continuing with TEFL, as I’ve enjoyed it so may as well keep going. I’ve been looking at a few vacancies in Europe; I’d like to teach in Italy, Spain or somewhere like that. I’ve had a few e-mails come through, so if I’m successful in my interviews then I’ll carry on the TEFL dream and think of reality later!

This afternoon, I’m going to Shanghai. It’s about one and a half hours from Hangzhou. But right now, I’m sat outside drinking a coffee… it’s 26 degrees and not raining! Life is good πŸ™‚

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