Saturday, 24 January 2009

Two Days in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is only 45 minutes or so from Shaoxing in the bus, and we'd visited several times. Usually it was a day trip - a quick trip on the bus or train early in the morning, and back home to Shaoxing in the afternoon.

We had several interesting places to visit regularly - one was the Silk Market. Rows of little shops selling all sorts of merchandise made of silk. Every time we went it seemed to have different products but the usual ones were there. Always a magnet for us to buy gifts.

A short walk from the Silk Market was the Foreign Languages Bookshop. Here we'd get our fix of English books - and there were always plenty to choose from. As well this bookshop had to other things that interested us. A western toilet and a Cafe.

The cafe was great - always good food and it was a very relaxing place to sit and chat after a busy day buying in the markets or in the bookshop. And of course the "pitstop" as we left for our journey home, which was usually a taxi ride to the bus or train station. Always very hard to get a taxi though, as we were often on the move at peak time.

All in all it was a wonderful day, and piqued our interest in staying there longer. I did stay for two days when I attended the TEFL conference, but still not long enough. So we decided to fit in two days before leaving Shaoxing, and after finding a little hotel near the West Lake we decided to book in. As they spoke little or no English, I found a student to do the booking and agreed to pay a deposit when I was next in Hangzhou.

Just a couple of weeks before our trip, we were in Hangzhou with a teacher who could speak a little Chinese so we went to pay the deposit. They asked for 200 RMB which we happily paid and of course kept the receipt.

When we arrived with our luggage on 11th January, there was a little drama. They asked for 1200 RMB deposit. Our two nights there was going to cost us just over 500 RMB so why the big deposit. There was some shouting and we continued to refuse the pay the exorbitant amount of money. In the end we paid 600 RMB and hoped we would get our balance back when we left

The room was OK - but some things fascinated us. The huge box of different condoms was a feature of the room, and the wall between the beds and the bathroom was a glass wall. It wasn't clear glass, but all ablutions could be easily seen by whoever was in the bedroom! Since we were both nursing folk, it did nothing bus amuse us.

So having checked in, we went walking to get some lunch, and check out the shops again. We wandered around the West Lake area, in and out of little shops, and cafes and eventually settled on some Chinese snacks, and coffee at an Italian place that we had previously visited.

That night we planned to visit the Jazz Club, that was conveniently within a few feet of the door of the hotel.


kbguy said...

So did they pay back your balance from the deposit ? I am so worry about this type of fraud during travelling to foreign places.

Di Hill said...

Yes, they did. No problems. I think you just need to have your wits about you, keep your receipts etc. Despite the challenge we've always been treated well, though there is a suspicion of foreigners in some places.