Babs in China

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So I am presuming that the smarter members of the blog-audience gathered from the title of this post that I am no longer writing from cold-wet Exeter, I am in fact speaking to you from colder-wetter China!
I am currently doing a three-week study exchange at Zejiang University, in the city of Hangzhou (a beautiful place just an hour south west of Shanghai). But with the social media bans out here and Internet coming and going frequently and without explanation I can only assume that I will struggle to blog regularly. However Revs and I are doing our best to make this whole long distance thing work, so here is post number one from astounding Asia.
For those of you who have never heard of Hangzhou (so basically everyone except my daddy, who excessively researches everywhere I visit) the city is famous all over China for its natural beauty, mainly because it is home to the West Lake. Commonly known to the Chinese as “heaven on earth”, I was lucky enough to visit this achingly picturesque park this morning and take a boat ride around the river. [You may recognise is as one of the lakes that frequently features in Chinese landscape art.]

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Apparently spring is the best time to visit this region as the blossom is out and the weather is normally (although conveniently not when I’m visiting), pleasantly warm and sunny. In old legends there are two best times to visit the lake, firstly during a sunny day when the colours are vibrant and the water is glistening, and secondly when a storm is brewing and the mist mutes the colours. As you can guess from my photos I witnessed the latter, however I kept telling myself that the weather added mystery to the photos and that during a sunny day the photos might turn out too cliché and desktop-background-esque (people will say anything to themselves in the pouring rain and freezing cold!)ImageImage

After my serene visit I had a polar opposite experience as I went into downtown Hangzhou to visit He Fang Ancient Street. This tourist hotspot is well known amongst locals as the “place to buy souvenirs for the people you hate!” Good old Chinese humour. And whilst that explanation was a lot to live up to, I found the street quite endearing, although this could be the typical first-time-in-china tourist’s approach. The street sells everything, with shops ranging from sexy silk nightdresses, to traditional Chinese tea mugs, many a tea emporium, herbal remedy stores with hidden gardens behind and even a stall selling rubber chickens whose purpose I am still yet to figure out. ImageImage

Whilst resisting the temptation to pick up souvenirs for my enemies (sisters count yourselves lucky…) I did find a tiny section at the back of an ethnic style store in which they were selling old matchboxes, and these decorated beauties were irresistible. Especially when priced at 6yen, which is the equivalent of around 67p!Image

So now I must call it an early night as I have an early morning Tai-ji class and who know what that entails. Until next time when I hope to have more photos and even some Chinese phrases to throw your way!!
Babs
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2 comments

  1. LOVE this post!

    I need to get to China ASAP!

    1. Yes you must, I absolutely loved it. Revs (the other girl who writes this blog!) is currently in Shanghai so hopefully we will get some good posts from that too.
      Babs

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