Shanghai Honqiao – Hangzhou East: 159¥
Bai & Su Causeways,
National Silk Museum
Dragon Well Tea Village.
After term ended in January I headed to Hangzhou for a long-weekend. It’s a short two and a half hour high-speed train journey from Shanghai, and if you choose your weekends wisely, a great break from the bustle of the big city.
Lakes, greenery and pedestrian and cycle paths that should be the envy of China, Hangzhou made a crisp New Year’s trip that’s definitely one of my China favourites.
I’m a simple creature, proximity to food is high on my list of priorities.
And Hangzhou’s slightly sweet and flavoursome style of dishes are a solid favourite out of my trips so far. If you’re down south, definitely try out these three dishes mains at the very least, Hangzhou did them perfectly: 红烧肉 Slow Stewed Pork, 家常白菜 Home Style Cabbage, 红烧茄子 Stewed Aubergine.
For speciality snacks, head down to QingHeFang St. on the west side of the lake where stalls selling traditional savoury snacks and sweet cakes line the narrow streets.
If you stay away from the traumatising horror of major national holidays in China, even at the weekends, Hangzhou’s lakes and causeways are some of the loveliest.
Besides the gentle (read: wonderfully flat) walk around the lake, it’s also surrounded by a scattering of temples, pagodas and museums well within a walking radius. We managed to cover them pretty extensively over three days, and I wish I had had more time at the Silk Museum. I was taken rather grudgingly, given my sceptical opinion of how interesting a museum of a single fabric could be, but I (equally grudgingly) had to confess I was wrong.
Good choice, Peter.
GREAT PUBLIC TRANSPORT
At risk of being called a criminally uncool, I have to say, having travelled a fair bit along the main tourist routes of China by now, it is with no small amount of gravity that I praise the tourist buses in Hangzhou. All hail efficiency.
With managable timetables and English announcements at every stop, it’s an easy town to move about in. (And the fact that I still managed to lead us half an hour in the wrong direction by the bus is testament only to my poor understanding of North vs. South.)
We headed down to the lakeside to rent a cheap tandem and cycle the lake. Things were certainly a lot safer when I wasn’t steering, but that aside, it was a perfect way to enjoy the sunshine.
Su Causeway North to Hubin Rd. takes around 25mins.
Another plus of good transport is that we weren’t afraid to take some late evening strolls around the lake and watch the lights glow from street lamps and tiny wooden stalls.
All in all, a great weekend.
See you again, Hangzhou.