Saturday, 6 December 2008

Going to Ningbo

My friend and I had planned to go to Ningbo for the weekend. It is closer to the coast from here, and a very pretty city. I had been before - and was looking just to get away. However, our two nights became one night away when the faculty changed the dates for the examiantions. Instead of being in the week commencing January 5th, they are not the week commencing December 15th, so I have a lot of work to do this weekend.

Sue and I were just about to leave my apartment on Friday midday when a student arrived. He was going to be in my apartment while the repairman fixed the toilet. It was with a little fear and trepidation that I left - wondering what I might find when I returned. Another flood?

Anyway we had train tickets, and a hotel booking, so bravely left. We caught a taxi to the station - woman driver which is rare, and we had a good run to the station.

The waiting room looked a mess - it is now a construction site. They seem to be demolishing part of it - hopefully extending it and putting in modern toilet facilities one would hope. We were waitng not far from the screened off area when a great crash was heard and bricks and rock came crashing down close behind the screen. We moved as far away as we could!

Soon we were being called and had to go on the station, down stairs and under the tunnel and back up the other way to the other platform. Soon the train came and we had to climb stairs up into the train. The train was full - and there were people in our seats and we had to move them on!

As it turned out one of the students was in the next seat and she and I chatted for most of the trip, and I kept watch on the changing scenery. There were a lot of farms along the way - many rice fields being harvested or the stubble being burned. Small carts were loading the stalks and in some fields there were neat little stacks. These are used for heating during winter, so most will be taken from the fields within the next few weeks. There are still some fields that need harvesting and cleaning up.

All along the way are vegetable gardens - so many green vegetables have been planted on small plots of land, up over mounds and on neat flat beds. Some are under plastic hothouses already. On both sides of the railway line there are farms, villages, and along here quite a few duck farms too and often the ducks are happily swimming in the ponds near their sheds.

It is less than two hours between Shaoxing and Ningbo, but there are two cities in between. One we pass is Shangyu - which I visited earlier this year to pick yang mei, and the other is Yuyao which I have not visited. Both quite bustling cities. Shangyu is the city of umbrellas and has 1000 umbrella factories!

We were soon at Ningbo, and scrambled out with everyone else. There is a hotel opposite the station and we made our first port of call there - it has a nice coffee lounge and western toilets!

We indulged in some fruit cake. Now what we call fruit cake and the Chinese restaurants call fruit cake is quite different. It was a delightful chocloate cake with fruit on top of the icing and in the middle with cream. Odd, but nice anyway!

All refreshed we went out into the street to find a taxi. There was a taxi rank just along from the hotel, and there were a few men trying to get us to get into little trucks - but we stood our ground and eventually caught a taxi to the hotel that we were booked into. The hotel brochure says "5 minutes from bus and train station" - what a joke! It was more like 20 minutes!

Anyway we were glad to see it and book in!

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