So whilst the Chinese don’t join the Brits in the view that evening entertainment consists of a loud group of overly inebriated, suitably sloshed and embarrassingly rowdy young people attempting to dance in a sweaty night club to awful music, they do have their own ideas on what makes a good night. So whilst attempting to steer clear from the typical boozy Brit-abroad tradition of joining with fellow foreigners to re-enact an average night out in the UK, my activities over the past few evenings have veered in the more local direction.
Firstly I took a trip to Hangzhou’s Wushan Road night market, and as the only white people in sight we decided that this was definitely immersing ourselves within the culture. Although it did mean then that the market catered more to the Chinese locals, resulting in lots of fakes (fake anything really, clothes, shoes, bags, electronics, caps… you name it, they fake it!) and clothes and shoes in painfully small sizes, as oppose to quaint souvenirs designed to attract tourists. However just the concept of a night market in a foreign country is enough to tempt any intrepid traveller.
Whilst the night market was quite a local affair, last night’s entertainment was the polar opposite; apparently Hangzhou is home to the most famous show in China and 3rd most famous show in the world (after Moulin Rouge and Las Vegas) – this was however according to our tour guide who is born-and-bred in Hangzhou, so I feel there is some bias here! The night show at Song Dynasty Town is where modern and ancient China meets in an overtly tacky, unbelievably well teched and jaw-droppingly over the top affair, in which the traditional tales of China are performed. Imagine opera but with sequined outfits, moving stages and the odd addition of a live horse on stage. At one point they even had a waterfall on the set, something completely alien to a CV abroad!
However whilst the show proved a little bit too much for my solidly European sentiments, the toy town it was set in proved to be everything I could want and more. Say goodbye to the tacky rides and hideously lit screens of English theme parks; this Asian interpretation was beautifully lit and built to mimic traditional China. Although on closer inspection the Buddha statues were made of plastic and the buildings painted concrete, to the unquestioning eye this tiny village was red lantern heaven.
As you can probably see from the photos, whilst events happening at night are amazingly romantic, in real life the amateur snapper can struggle to capture all this magic in an old Pentax. So sorry for the blur, you will just have to trust me on the warm and magical atmosphere glowing throughout.
Now whilst this has been fun, a CV’s day is never done (especially when trying to master Mandarin), so farewell for now as I have 4 hours of Chinese class to battle through!