We arrived in Hangzhou and thankfully made it to our hostel without getting lost. The main attraction in Hangzhou is a lake called the West Lake. What is special about Hangzhou’s West Lake is that there is a park surrounding the whole lake. No one can bring in animals or bikes into this area. So people are able to come in, walk around, and enjoy the lake.
After we checked in we rented bikes and biked around the entire lake. Every so often we would stop to take pictures or to eat ice cream, which is probably the reason I’m so fat.
The next day we rented bikes again and biked out to the National Silk Museum. China is very proud that they developed the technique to cultivate silk. It was very interesting to learn about silk production.
After the silk museum we went to the National Tea Museum. The Chinese are also very proud of their tea. In fact they are a little nuts about it. At the tea museum they invited Jennifer and I to participate in a tea ceremony. For me it was my first tea ceremony but for Jennifer it was already her second.
In China a big scam that is played on tourist is that a Chinese person, who speaks pretty good English, would come up to you and start chatting to you. You (the tourist) get excited that you finally met someone who speaks English. The Chinese person will then ask you if you want to join them at a coffee shop or a tea ceremony and continue talking to them. So you go with them and chat with them but when you ask for the bill you see that you are not only paying an exorbitant amount for your drink but your also paying for the Chinese peoples’ drinks as well.
So on her first day inChina, my sister got caught in the scam and ended up paying over 170 RMB for a tea ceremony.
But the tea ceremony at the tea museum was free (we made sure we asked a number of times because we didn’t want to be scammed like Jen was). We tasted four different kinds of tea. For the last one, the tea leaves opens up into the shape of a flower. It was pretty cool. The problem was, was that I like sugar in my tea and the Chinese don’t put sugar in their tea. They believe it distorts the taste.
Hangzhou was a really hot and humid place. Think Maryland’s weather during the summer and multiply that by ten. Being Schwarz’s we were shvitzing up a storm. But that afternoon was when it started to pour. Good thing we bought umbrellas in Suzhou.
Earlier in the day my phone broke so once the rain stopped I headed towards China Mobil (China’s national phone company). I had only 15 minutes to sort out my phone before we needed to catch a bus to the train station and the problem was that walking to and from the China Mobil store would have taken me 15 minutes alone. I went anyways hoping to get my phone working. After spending 15 minutes in the store alone and still not getting my phone fixed (because I bought the phone in Hubei province and since I was in a different province they couldn’t help me) I hustled back to the hostel to try and catch the bus to the train station.
On the bus we found out that the train station we needed to go to was on the other side of town and that it would take over and hour to get there. We only had 45 minutes. Jennifer and I were getting really nervous that we would miss our train. (It was an overnight train and only left once a day so we really needed to get on that train). Halfway through the bus ride we had to get off the bus and hail a cab. The problem was that we were in the middle of nowhere. Once we did find a cab it turned out to be the slowest cab I had ever been in. In all my time in China I had never experienced a cab driver drive so slow.
We finally reached the train station with a minute to spare only to find out that the train was delayed. Go figure. After waiting 30 more minutes we got on our train and got ready for an overnight trip to Guilin.