InternChina rolled out for another weekend trip. This time the destination was 杭州 (Hangzhou) and its surrounding mountainous regions that we were going to trek in. We chose Hangzhou because of its exemplary beauty which is widely renowned in China and also other countries.
We arrived Friday late at night; fatigued from our journey we went straight to bed after having a short stroll through the neighbourhood surrounding the hostel. After six more or less refreshing hours of sleep we got up in order to catch the bus taking us to the Hui Hang Trail. 徽杭古道 (said trail) is a gorgeous trail cutting through the hills and valleys a little outside Hangzhou. Luckily the public part of the trail was a 3-hour drive away, so that we could compensate for the sleep we had missed out on. Traders once used to transport tea over this route but now it has become a popular tourist attraction. Albeit we were part of a travel group, we did not want to be rushed by the masses around us and thus resolved to part from the rest to enjoy the stunning beauty of the rolling hills and deep valleys in peace. 20 km later we were hundreds of pictures richer and were glad of having successfully finished the trek, feeling that such a trip is quite extraordinary in that not many (foreigners at least) travel down this route. Furthermore the cherry and plum trees had just started blossoming adding colour to the picturesque landscape. It was a breath-taking day-trip in every sense of the word. Later that evening we arrived back at Hangzhou and ate Hot Pot after begrudgingly finding out that we were too late to be served by 外婆家 (Grandma’s Home) – their loss.
Sunday we slept in, well we slept until 9 AM. Our mission for the day was to find out why Hangzhou is part of a Chinese saying that translates to “In Heaven there is Paradise and on Earth there is Hangzhou and Suzhou (上有天堂, 下有蘇杭)”. We already had a good look at Suzhou’s beauty two months earlier and now we were about to witness the splendour of Hangzhou. Hangzhou differs from other Chinese cities in that greenery is a vital part of the city’s landscape. Thus we set out to discover the hostel’s mostly pedestrianised surroundings in which there were loads of blossoming gardens, parks and plazas. The hostel was in fact located fairly conveniently so that the famous West Lake was just a ten minute walk away. Arriving there we rested for a while absorbing the tranquillity of the landscape depicted on the hindsight of the 1-Yuan note. Afterwards we set upon renting some bikes to discover more of this antique city (I can highly recommend renting bikes to anyone planning to travel to Hangzhou). We cycled around the lake for a bit and ended up at an ancient Buddhist temple that had a magnificent view. To finish off the trip we once again tried our luck with Grandma’s Home and got turned down once more. So we settled with Thai-food – not too bad a compromise in my opinion.
It was a great time of year (mid March) to visit Hangzhou because all the plants were blossoming, the temperature was pleasantly moderate and the city was not overrun by tourists.