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Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan, World Expo – Part I

October 17, 2010

I have been a lazy blogger. A very, very lazy blogger. I have traveled quite a bit and gone to see some awesome things the past two months, since my arrival in Shanghai; but because of Backpackgate, I have been without a camera, other than my cell phone, which has discouraged me from blogging about these adventures. Any pictures I have (which are rather few) are on my boyfriend’s camera, and then I have to upload them onto the computer… then onto wordpress… such a time-consuming, troublesome venture.

I usually opt to go cook something instead. ::shrug::

But the time has come to chronicle my travels and sight-seeing, in this four-part series: Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan, World Expo.

PART I: HANGZHOU, HOTEL OF DREAMS

Because of an organization Rick is part of , he and I were invited to spend a weekend in Hangzhou back in September. Hangzhou is one of China’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s a beautiful city, built around a gorgeous lake; and it’s blessedly close to Shanghai, easily accessible by train. Eager to get travelling, we happily agreed.

However, we soon found out that the hotel the organization had picked, theWyndam Grand Plaza West Lake Hangzhou, was… well, a bit out of our price range.

Amazingly, one of the members of the organization is the hotel manager, and he agreed to give us a complimentary room for the night! Thrilled beyond belief, we boarded the train to Hangzhou on Saturday afternoon and headed for our first China weekend getaway.

Getting from the utterly chaotic Hangzhou train station to our hotel a bit of headache – way too many people, way too few cabs, hardly any coordination (a common problem in this country). Luckily, lots of black cars–illegal cabs–were hovering around the station, not-so-discreetly offering to give rides. We hopped into one, and within 15 minutes, we arrived at the hotel.

 

Rick and I decided to take some glamor shots in our gorgeous hotel suite. God I miss that bed. Best one night stand I ever had.

 

It was an absolute dream! Walking into the lobby, Rick and I were breathtaken with the decor; we new we were in for a real treat–and for free! When we mentioned who we were with, one of hotel’s assistant managers, a friendly German woman, began to personally take care of us. She even escorted us to our suite and gave us a tour.

Oh yes. It was that kind of suite. No wonder they treated us like we were important! We two young scruffy things in our travel clothes, staying in that luxury suite.

As she gave us the tour, Rick and I pretended we expected everything, but were making wide-eyes of glee behind her back. When she left, we lost it. We jumped up and down squeeing and shouting “Oh my GOD!!!! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!” for at least 10 minutes straight.

This was the life. Huge flat-screen TV in front of the biggest, most plush hotel bed I’ve ever seen – and the comfiest by far; our own little nook with a couch, coffee table, beautiful desk; a huge bathroom with a bathtub and a “natural” shower, with water than comes out of the ceiling like rain; two fluffy white robes and sets of slippers; and some complimentary cookies and fruit, like a cherry on top of this glorious, free sundae.

Needless to say, we didn’t see much of Hangzhou.

We did have a lovely dinner with Rick’s organization, made some new friends in Shanghai, although most of them significantly older than we are. It’s strange, entering the social world of adults. Suddenly, it’s not that weird for us to be friends with a couple in their thirties. We’re all adults. In high school and college, each year you’re in a whole new category. As an adult, it’s one big pool, with a shallow end – us – and a deep end, and all the in-between.

I'm standing at the side of the lake, eating a delicious slice of Xinjiang "honeydew" melon, which is very similar to canteloupe (but crisper and slightly less sweet). We couldn't get a better shot of the lake in the fog.

Anyway, after a wonderful evening, we slept in (impossible not to in that bed), and lazily explored a bit of Hangzhou. As pretty as the lake was, it was a bit foggy and crowded, and we didn’t feel like splurging on an overpriced teahouse or boat ride. Hangzhou’s other attractions — including big tea farms where you can take a tour of the tea fields, as well as museums and historical sites — all seemed like fun, but… we really just wanted to get back to the Hotel room of Dreams. Why waste one minute of our free bout with luxury?

Back we went, until checkout. It was a glorious afternoon. We arrived back in Shanghai that evening, determined to visit Hangzhou again soon when we might not be so distracted by the hospitality industry’s glory.

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