Kids These Days...

Hangzhou Travel Blog

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West Lake in Hangzhou

People who made my travels more enjoyable: Michelle (USA)

My night in that little hotel at the base of Huangshan was one of the most comfortable of my entire trip. The long hike from the day before left me feeling exhausted. Not in a bad way, but as if I had completed a day worth of satisfying physical labor. It was the kind of sleep that can only be achieved after significant physical exertion. 

Michelle and I ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and then we boarded a bus for Hangzhou. Michelle's planning was perfect and we only had to haul our bags 100 yards to the main road in order to catch the bus. The bus, which was a full-sized coach, took us away from the mountain toward the East.

Dude just chillin'
The ride would have been pleasant, but unfortunately sat next to a farmer, his wife and their two incredibly misbehaved children. It's a common stereotype in the US that Asian children are very well behaved. After a year in Korea, I can attest that this stereotype could not be further from the truth. 

The fact that the farming family had two children was surprising, but in the country side the One Child Policy is not always strictly enforced. Furthermore, if both parents were only children, then they would be permitted to have two children. One unintended consequence of the One Child Policy was that it created it created an incredibly top-down family structure. By this I mean that there are far more grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, etc. ready and willing to dote on a few young children. And the result of this? The most spoiled and misbehaved children you've witnessed in your entire life.

Hangzhou train station
Especially if that one child happens to be a boy!

Once the long bus ride ended, Michelle and I hailed a cab that would take us from the bus station to the central train station on the far side of West Lake (a central lake in Hangzhou that is both beautiful and strangely peaceful). This was another cab ride, where the driver took a particular interest in me. At one point Michelle even asked him to pay attention to the road and stop staring at the Laowei in the back. The driver quickly retorted, "why is your Chinese so bad". This always struck a nerve with Michelle and I could see the look of frustration creeping onto her face. Luckily, the drive did not take too long and soon we arrived at the station.

So far this was my third station in China (if you count Hong Kong) and it was by far the most dilapidated and crowded.

Country luggage
Michelle was not able to secure a seat on the high-speed train, so instead we had to take one of the slower commuter trains. Travel on such trains is rather inexpensive, so as a result we would be traveling with many farmers and other residents of rural China (often referred to as peasants). Entering the station was an adventure in itself as a large crowd had to funnel through a makeshift security station (due to unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet, the Chinese authorities do worry about terrorist activities). I was pretty used to the pushing and shoving at this point, so I just joined in and eventually cleared a path for Michelle and I. Once inside the station we waited for about an hour inside a large gate that had no air conditioning. One other interesting side-note, the bathroom at the trainstation was the most foul smelling and disgusting bathroom I had ever witnessed (that says a lot considering I was in a fraternity at Dartmouth). After our wait was over, Michelle and I boarded the train.

Next stop Shanghai!

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West Lake in Hangzhou
West Lake in Hangzhou
Dude just chillin
Dude just chillin'
Hangzhou train station
Hangzhou train station
Country luggage
Country luggage
Waiting area 5
Waiting area 5
Another view of the lake
Another view of the lake
Another shot
Another shot
Inflammable explosives?
Inflammable explosives?
Hangzhou
photo by: sophiefbs