Day trip to Hangzhou, China

Living in a big city has its perks, but I love being able to hop on a train or bus and escape for a few hours. When I lived in Manhattan, it was really convenient to take Amtrack up to Boston or down to DC for the weekend. Here in Shanghai, it's a little more complicated, but not too hard (once you remember to take your passport with you!). 

I tried to visit Hangzhou during my stay-cation in Shanghai during Chinese New Year.  Imagine my disappointment when after an hour long metro ride to the waaaay other side of Shanghai, I couldn't buy a bullet train ticket because I didn't have my passport with me!  I tried to show my school ID, and only say my passport number to the ticket agent, but the agent wouldn't budge.  Mind you, I checked information on tourist sites and on their transit site, and I never saw one warning about needing the identification. I was a little bummed, to say the least. 

On Sunday, I knew to go to Hongqiao station with the proper information!  I was able to buy the ticket with no issues, and got on the next available bullet train with ease.  The Hongqiao station is a super modern facility, equipped with stores, a food court and clean waiting areas.  It definitely looked more like an airport, than any train station I'm used to seeing.  The bullet train trip only took 40 minutes, and it was a really clean train, with signage in English.  Even the bathroom was usable! WOW!

Upon arrival, I found this canal/garden that runs the length of the city.  As it turns out, Hangzhou is more green than I thought it would be.  It was a perfect almost-spring day; lots of warm sunshine, and almost no pollution!

Out of the garden, and back on the street, I made my way towards the infamous "Xi Hu", or West Lake. Along the way, I marveled at how clean Hangzhou is, and ingenious ideas, like government rent-a-bicycle stations placed on the main road.  

Olé Olé!

Lingyin temple in the distance

It's a bit hard to tell, but yes, this is me in front of the West Lake.  It was so bright, and this picture is from my iPhone-thus the quality is terrible, and does not do this lake justice.  It was so beautiful, and would have been an extremely tranquil place to mediate, if there weren't about 800 other Chinese families enjoying the pretty view, sunshine and nice Sunday afternoon.  The large amount of people walking around this huge lake may have even been more impressive than the scenery itself.

The idea of a nice Sunday boat ride was tempting.. the murky brown lake water--not so much!!

For a post-lake snack, I found myself in this noodle shop.  Besides the cleanliness, friendliness and happiness I felt in Hangzhou, I was so happy to eat on the cheap for really cheap.  Tea, dumpling soup, and vegetables only cost 25rmb!  There weren't many Westerners in Hangzhou--and definitely absent from this shop--so while I dined, the wait staff took laps around my table, trying to take not-so-obvious but obvious sneak peaks at my face.  I didn't even care--those dumplings were distractingly delicious.  After my meal, the waiter invited me to sign their wall of fame, where I of course wrote a thanks for the dumplings message!

 Overall, I'm happy I was able to visit Hangzhou, and I highly recommend it for the quaint Chinese lane houses, canal boats, old people playing mahjong at the lake, and yummy, inexpensive dumplings!

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