Sunday, 25 January 2009
Adventure on my own
My companion for the two days in Hangzhou was a fellow teacher from Australia - and despite a lot of differences we got on well. She was a nurse, I had been a nurse, she was from Tasmania and I was from the mainland, she liked to smoke, I hate smoking - and so it went. She also liked to stay up late at night, while I liked an early night, and she enjoyed sleeping in while I was an "early bird", so the next morning I was up early, dressed and headed out for breakfast at Starbucks. (Not that I am a great fan of Starbucks, but the food is pretty good and it was close by!)
The lake was a wonderful picture as you can see from the photos. Around the lake in the parks are often groups of people doing their morning exercise. This is a common sight all around China, and even if they do not go out into the parks, people do their daily exercises religiously. It is important for "good health."
I sat and enjoyed my breakfast before setting off to Hefung St. The tourist books said this opened at 8 am - but perhaps that is summer. In any case I set of along Yan'an Road enjoying the new scenery.
At one stage a man came "flying" towards me on roller blades and said "hello". I replied "hello" and he said "Great, you speak English." These sort of conversations are common - not all light skinned foreigners are English speakers! He was asking for direction. Now, of course, I'd not be the best person to ask directions would I? I mean, I'm not a local. But where did he want to go?
Starbucks! How funny! As I had not long ago walked out the door, I certainly knew where it was, and I laughed as I told him the directions! Funny world, isn't it?
When I reached Hefung Street it was mostly deserted, but some of the stalls and shops were beginning to open. I had come specifically for the music one, but it didn't open in the time I was there.
However, it was great to wander around without crowds milling around and I wandered the whole length of this historic street taking photos and looking in the shops.
I met a calligrapher and he showed me some of his work and I was delighted to buy a little piece, and then I bought a magic trick for my grandson, before I headed back to Wushen Square and caught a taxi back to Starbucks where my fellow traveller was enjoying her breakfast.
We went back to the hotel and grabbed our bags, checked out (and yes, ) we did get the balance of the "deposit" back. However, we did think it was very funny. "Wait a moment" the receptionist said - and the young man who was also working on the counter went up to check. Perhaps he counted the condoms, perhaps the towels, but he soon appeared and we saw his "thumbs up" from the staircase and the money was duly handed over to us.
We found a taxi and headed for the East bus station and got our tickets - and only had to wait 10 minutes for the bus to Shaoxing.
We were back by early afternoon after an uneventful bus journey. Time to finish off preparing for our departure from Shaoxing back to Australia.