Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hangzhou is heaven on earth

Katie came to China last week, so I took a break from posting.

As I predicted she was on the phone a lot and woke up to check emails multiple times each night, but she still managed to stay awake during the day and we had a great time. We were in Shanghai for a majority of her visit, but we took quick trips to Beijing and Hangzhou.

Despite the luxury of the St. Regis, the Beijing trip confirmed Katie's general distaste for the traffic, bad pollution, and communist feeling in the north. Hanzhou was another story. The Chinese have a saying that "Up above, there is heaven, on the ground, there is Suzhou and Hangzhou." We had been to Suzhou during her last trip, and let me tell you: it may have been beautiful, but the gardens are now surrounded by industrial parks and filled with green trees covered in brown dust.

However, Hangzhou was indeed very pretty. Hangzhou is dominated by West Lake and surrounded by a few low mountains. We didn't get a chance to go into the mountains, which are well known for growing tea and bamboo. But our time spent on the lake was quite nice. There aren't the crowds of people found in other tourist locations, and the lake is still well maintained by the local government. Also, the local Hangzhou cuisine is incredible.

The recently unveiled D-class trains (China rolls out faster and faster service each year, and changes the train lettering to let you know how fast that particular train will go) hit 180 km/h (110 mph) and go straight from Shanghai South Railway station to downtown Hangzhou in one hour and 15 minutes for the round trip cost of 128 RMB ($17). I highly recommend the trip.


rbiber said...

Great picture!! Gives a nice flavor for Hangzhou!!

Anonymous said...

Last time we went to Hangzhou, I was sick, and I spent maybe 1/5 of the time in the bath room on the train, yes I agree it is a beautiful city, local cuisine is also awsome! JC