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Thursday, July 18, 2013

China Trip- Day 1: Hangzhou- 17th May 2013

On 16th May 2013, we started our journey to explore Eastern China after getting the flight tickets a year back when AirAsia started the new route to Shanghai. We took an evening flight from KL and reached Shanghai Pudong International Airport around midnight. Once we got all our luggage, the first thing we did was find the entrance to get a taxi. You will see a lot of people rushing to the same entrance especially during midnight. No worries of getting lost, as all signboards are written in Chinese and English. The queue however, was long at the taxi stand but there was a guard patrolling and controlling the crowd to get taxis. I would advise you to stay nearby if you arrived late at Shanghai as we were pretty exhausted by the time we arrived there. So, we stayed in Jinjiang Inn Pudong Airport II hotel which was only a few kilometres away from the airport. This was one of the cheapest hotel nearest to the airport which was below RM 200. Taxi fare from airport to hotel was only CNY 18 (RM9). Don't get any private cars to escort you as taxis are pretty easy to get in Shanghai.

Next day, we took a taxi to Shanghai Hongqiao Station so that we could take the express train to Hangzhou. The hotel we stayed was actually within walking distance to their metro line but we wanted to get there fast. It took us around 1 hour for the journey from the hotel to Shanghai Hongqiao Station. 
Shanghai Hongqiao Station-the place to buy express train tickets to Hangzhou. Queue is long everywhere, but it is fast. We managed to get our tickets within 15 minutes despite the long queue (which wont happen in Malaysia). The place is like an airport, you will have to wait at the designated gate before you enter. 

Just remember that once you are allowed to enter the train platform, don't take your sweet time to find your car, the train will stop for 15 minutes only once the gate is open. You will see everyone rushing to get into their cars because each train have around 20 carriages. Imagine if your car is no. 20 and the gate is at car no. 1, you have to pass through 19 cars in 15 minutes!

Here is how you read your train ticket:
The whole journey took us around 1 hour to reach Hangzhou. Taking the express train cost us only CNY 77.50 (RM 38.75) per person, plus you can see many of china's houses and plantations along the way, so it was quite interesting.

In Hangzhou, we stayed in Xindopo Hotel which is very near to the Westlake, within 2 minutes walking distance and Mcdonalds is just around the corner of the hotel, which shows that the location of the hotel is very convenient. The room comes with breakfast for only RMB 398, however the only way to make a booking is through Although the room was a bit small, it was good enough for us to stay for the night since we wouldn't be around during daytime.

Mcdonalds and the famous CoCo are just around the corner. No worries on finding food, 24-hours Mcdonalds is always there.

Famous Westlake in Hangzhou. In June 2011, Westlake Hangzhou was listed as the UNESCO World Herritage site. Also, you will see lots of couples hanging around there too. If you are lucky, you may see some china couples making out there too! 

There are numerous boat rides along the Westlake too.

Broken Bridge
It is known as one of the most elegant and romantic site in Westlake for its romantic love story of the legend of Lady White Snake. So every year, many singles, as well as both young and old couples from different areas of the world will come over to enjoy the scenery and also stand on the bridge, praying for the eternity of love and marriage.

Walking 1/3 of the Westlake could take you more than 3 hours. Best prepare a pair of knickers! Surprisingly in China, you will see many of the ladies wearing high heels while walking in the parks, lakes and even climbing hills! Salute them! I was the only lady wearing flats! 

Starbucks in the middle of Westlake. After walking for hours, we decided to stop and get some drinks since it was our chance to try out China's starbucks!

The drinks taste around the same but the pastries sold are different from Malaysia, which weren't that great in taste. I guess china is still best in their cooking of rice rather than making bread.

Solitary Hill And Zhongshan Park
It is the only natural island on the lake.  The hill is around thirty-eight meters above sea level and covers an area of twenty hectares. A travelling lodge was built during Qing Dynasty for Emperor Kangxi for the use of his inspection tours to Hangzhou. The park is a perfect combination of woods, pavilions and winding paths along the southern slope of the Solitary Hill.

Then we arrived at our destination which is the Impression West Lake Ticketing counter. Early that morning, we have booked the tickets with a travel agency located inside our Hotel. However, we need to collect the tickets personally from the ticket counter which is in front of Yue Fei Temple. We bought the cheapest tickets which cost us RMB 260 per person (RM 130). 

Just for your info, Impression West Lake is a must watch show in Hangzhou, which was directed by Zhang Yimou with a grand scenery and larger-than-life performance. The stage was entirely on the lake itself and was built to be 3cm below the water surface.  

Here is the seating arrangement, the agency managed to get us A1 area. All tickets come with a seating number, no free seating are available.

Yue Fei Statue in front of the show entrance.

While waiting for the show to start, we saw this cute shop selling Japanese takoyaki. 

We ordered one of their takoyaki called big octopus takoyaki which is around RMB 10 (RM5). The taste was fabulous! I never had fusion takoyaki other than the traditional ones in Japanese Restaurants. Must try! When I was back in Malaysia, I found out there are a few franchise outlets in K.L too but the taste wasn't as good as Hangzhou and prices are also slightly higher!

Since we still have 1 and a half hour before the show starts, we went to visit Yue Fei Temple which is located just on the opposite side of the road. It is a temple built to honour Yue Fei who was a general during the Song Dynasty.
Temple of General Yue Fei
Address: 80, Beishan Road
 Entrance fee: RMB 25 (RM 12.50) 
Visiting hours: from 7am to 6pm.

Although the visiting hours were stated as until 6 pm, we were still allowed in even though it was already 6 at that time. And we stayed until quite late (forgot what time but it was already dark when we left), so I guess you have to confirm with the locals what time do they close. Nevertheless, we were glad we visited during this hour because there were hardly any tourists at the time, so we could take our own sweet time and enjoy the serenity of the gardens as much as we like. Subsequently, we passed by the temple early morning the next day and it was packed with tourists all over. 

The show starts at 7.45pm, it is a one hour outdoor live performance on the lake. That day wasn't a good for us as the rain started to pour when  the show was about to start. Everyone was given a raincoat, although the rain was heavy it did not stop us or the performers to run the show.

The show is amazing and impressive with the light, dance and music. Although we did not quite understand the whole story but at least their performance captured our attention. Must watch!

After a big pour, we managed to get a taxi back to our hotel after wondering around 30 minutes on the road desperately trying to catch a taxi. Public transport at Westlake ends at 4pm, and it is hard to catch a taxi after the show. It would be advisable to catch a taxi near a hotel nearby.

We had McDonalds as our dinner and supper! I just love their Taro Pie! Spicy Chicken Fillet is so different from our Spicy Chicken McDeluxe! The bun is delicious! I always love to try out a different country's fast-food outlet when I am there. It really do vary from sizes to tastes for each country! And that basically marks the end of our first day, stay tuned for more updates for the journey in Shanghai!

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