For your convenience, please refer to The Journey for the itinerary and the latest updates.
I will write about the 5-day trip to Jiangnan (Hangzhou, Suzhou & Shanghai) from Day 7 to Day 11. I’ll try to be as detailed as possible regarding the travel arrangements and places that we visited in the report.
Alan and I woke up really early in order to catch the first shuttle bus to the airport at 5.30am. We would have to take a cab to New Pearl River Hotel (新珠江大酒店), the nearest shuttle stop. The shuttle would cost 23 RMB, not too expensive for covering almost 45km.
We had some difficulties figuring out where our check in row was and queued up at the wrong counter. Luckily we managed to sort it out and even found the time to say good morning to Aaron.
Our flight was Deer Jet flight JD5619 scheduled to depart CAN at 7.45am and arrive HGZ at 9.50am. To be honest I had no idea that this airline exists before booking the flight but the first impression wasn’t too bad. The aircraft cabin was clean and one of the cabin crews looked like some celebrity (exactly which Alan and I couldn’t agree on that).
Distance traveled CAN – HGZ: 1038 km
We arrived earlier than expected (proved that Chinese airlines pad their schedules) and found the shuttle bus to Wulin Square (武林小广场). The shuttle bus attendant pitched some travel products (hotels mainly) as soon as the bus started to move. Along the way:
Upon reaching the bus station at Wulin Squre, we were swarmed by tour agents giving us their pamphlets. Escaping them, we managed to hail a cab to West Lake Youth Hostel, our abode for the next two days. I didn’t take a picture of the hostel entrance and I’ll post one that I found on sinohotel instead.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport to Wulin Square (Shuttle bus 20 RMB) to West Lake Youth Hostel (Cab 16 RMB)
We got a four-bed dorm (with attached bathroom) at 55 RMB per person per night. Luckily for us, we were the only occupants for the first night. After settling down and making the necessary research, we headed out to explore Hangzhou.
The first thing that we did was to find the kiosk where we could get a bike rental card (more information here). Hangzhou’s Municipal Government had installed many kiosks around the city where one would rental these public bikes. It costs nothing for the first hour, 2 RMB for the second one and 3 RMB per hour from the third hour onwards. It would be our main mode of transportation in the city.
Our hostel was by Hangzhou’s famous West Lake. Naturally we took photos there.
With our new ride we made our way to Qinghefang, a well-preserved (or well-restored?) historic street. The wares sold in the street were mainly Chinese crafts and aimed mainly at the tourists.
The outdoors became too cold for us and we escaped into the Treasury Museum. The good thing about Hangzhou museums is that they charge no admission at all. Despite that, we were the only visitors.
Some of the exhibits:
Portrait of one of Qing’s greatest statesman
ROC founding father
After touring the museum, we cycled to the train station to buy our train ticket to Shanghai. It was rather scary as I had no prior experience cycling on roads before. Furthermore, China drives on the opposite side of Singapore which only added to the confusion. The saving grace was that most main roads in Hangzhou had a lane for cyclists.
Dinner was at a restaurant near Hefang Street. The waitresses in every restaurant that we walked past would try to usher us into theirs. We decided that there were little differences between them and we settled for a random one.
As the public bike rental system closed its operation by 8.30pm, we decided to walk back to our hostel to work away the calories. Along the way, taxi drivers would approach us and asked whether we would like to visit the bar street. We declined and Alan remarked that the taxi drivers had to resort to touting because of the less business brought about by the efficient bike rental system.
Instead of the bar street, Alan enjoyed himself by beating me in consecutive games of Chinese chess at the hostel.