My Visit to Hangzhou and Shanghai

Last 2 weeks, I went to Hangzhou and Shanghai with both my parents and my eldest sister, dura. The weather wasn’t perfect so everything looks a bit blur. It was cool and windy during the first few days, then hazy for 2 days and finally, raining and  painfully hot during the last 2 days. I strongly recommend, don’t go to Hangzhou in hot times, the weather will make you very uncomfortable. And also coincidentally, dragon boat festival was held during our trip to Shanghai. Although we didn’t manage to see any of the boat race, most of the attraction place in Shanghai was very very very pack with local people as it was local holiday for 3 days. We really had a hard time to explore Shanghai because everywhere we go was full with people. Nevertheless, it was great experience.

We don’t take any tours or local guide during our visit here, as I anticipated that both Hangzhou and Shanghai is easy to navigate using the public transportation, and it’s true. We took the bullet train to travel between Hangzhou and Shanghai, which took only 50mins ride between Hangzhou Railway Station and Shanghai Hongqio Station. Both subway system in Hangzhou and Shanghai also easy to be use. We don’t have any problem to buy the subway ticket as the vending machines have english translation. However, you need to beware of shameless local  people that will suddenly push you or kick you behind to jump the queue. Luckily we had get used to the spitting and line jumping, that’s something we’ve to deal with no matter where we go in China. Hahaha… We even take a local bus to visit Zhujiajio Water village, and of couse it was not that easy…. I think I’ll write my experience visiting this ancient water village in other post. Oh ya.. we also takes the local taxi. Communication with the taxi driver was tough, as none of them can speak english, and some driver would refuse to carry you if your destination is not far.

In Hangzhou, we visited the famous West Lake, beautiful, surrounded by trees with mountains in the background, it was really a tranquil place. If you just look at the pictures from fellow travelers, you may not feel special about this place. You have to really go there and feel the ambiance to appreciate the beauty of this place. Even there is a saying in China about West Lake being heaven on earth. It was an amazing place to relax and feel far from the bustling city center, especially when I really need a time off from my hectic work load. Oh ya, another place that I love here is the Hefang Street, a street full of small but lovely shops. You can see many interesting thing there, the souvenir, handicraft, toys, local food, chinese medicine, etc. There are also street performance by the local artist and craftsman. It’s a good place for foreginer to experience the ancient and traditional chinese culture.

shopping at Hefang Street

The contrast Shanghai, is full with tall buildings and new urban design destination. Shanghai is a big and modern city just like what have been described in books and on TV. The skyscrapers amazed me. We stayed in the middle of Nanjing Pedestrian street. The Nanjing Road is the busiest commercial road in Shanghai and has been compared to the Fifth Avenue in New York. The bustling road is difficult to take a nice street level shot. I could not advance fast for a lot of street hawkers came up and shouted at me, “Hey, girl, wanna shoes?” I kept replying “Bu yao. Xiexie.” But they all followed you from 10 to 30 steps. The road is brilliant at night when the lights on.

As an architect, I really amazed to see The Bund area. It is an excellent place to take a stroll and enjoy the contrasting sites of Shanghai. The old colonial-style buildings of the Puxi side contrasting greatly with the modern glass and concrete of Pudong across the river, amazing!… But like many places in Shanghai, this place was very crowded. We also went across the river to Pudong area to see The Bund from across the river. We also hang around Xintiandi area and Yuyuan garden area during our visit there.

The Bund area

Viewing the Bund from Pudong area

The Yuyuan Garden

Oh ya… visiting the Zhujiajiao water villages was one of the highlight in this trip. It was an unplanned detour, since we had some time to spare during our stay in Shanghai. There’s actually few water villages that we can visit for a day trip in Shanghai, but from my quickly internet search,  all the water villages are actually similar in its attractions like the bridges, streets, old buildings, etc. I think we made a right choice to visit Zhujiajiao. Not too touristy, I see less foreign tourist, and more local tourist. I can feel that the locals escaping from their busy, modern Shanghai life and step into traditional water town life.  To me, Zhujiajiao has all a water town can offer — bridges, water canals, local eateries, art shops, hand crafts and even coffee houses. I didn’t try their coffee though.   I’ll write in separate post about my daytrip here.

Overall… it was a nice trip.. since I’m traveling with both my parents and my elder sister that can’t walk much, I try to make this trip as leisure as possible. No hectic schedule and explore both cities at our own pace.

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