Sunday, 25 January 2009

A dinner to remember at Shangri La

We set out initially to go to a Holiday Inn Hotel but discovered that it was way out of Hangzhou - we were interested in the buffet and we had asked a young Chinese girl if she could explain where it was - we had an advertisement from More Hangzhou, but she explained it would take 100 RMB in a taxi to get there, so we changed our plans.

The magazine had great things to say about Peppino's at the Shangri La Hotel, which is on the other side of the West Lake from where we were, so we hopped in a taxi and travelled to the hotel that was set in beautiful gardens high above the lake. Now this is a place that I MUST go back to if I return to China. It was a shame that we only had the opportunity to see this place after dark. The hotel was certainly splendid - with a most wonderful piece of artwork in the foyer and another in the restaurant. The food? Absolutely fabulous! We had the Antipasto Buffet - which had a wonderful array of foods. We started with three fabulous breads, and a bottle of great Australian wine. The buffet included real smoked salmon, pate, vegetables as only the Italians do for their antipastos, and real cheese. Now this is something we really missed. CHEESE. The Chinese are not cheese eaters, so this was one of the many Western foods we craved. What a meal! So enjoyable. We noticed that many "foreigners" also enjoyed the restaurant, but there was a fair sprinkling of Chinese too.

After the meal we went back into the little shop near the foyer. These shops are a feature of most upmarket hotels and they sell all manner of expensive Chinese artifacts including Jade jewelery, Jade figurines, tea sets etc. And to our surprise (due to the financial turmoil we were told) there was a 90% discount! Oh, if only we (a) had more room in our suitcases and (b) had money to spare!
Initially we were going to get a taxi from the foyer, but I suggested we at least go down to the lake edge and see the view. I'm glad we did. It was around 10 pm and the night was still, cool, but comfortable and the view of the lights around the lake was almost breathtaking. In the end we walked back to our hotel along the pathway at the edge of the lake. We heard the ducks, we saw the lights and quite amazingly an "airship" flew overhead with one side of it a screen where advertising was being played.

We found a little place for a coffee near the West Lake before walking the last few paces to the hotel.

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