Sparky Travels

December 8, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 12:36 pm

After a comfortable 90 minute train journey from Shanghai I arrived at Hangzhou East Station. Neither Lonely Planet or my own research gave a definitive answer on how to get into town so I jumped on the first bus that looked like it was going in the right direction. With an eye on my map and our route I jumped off before the bus headed back out of town. I figured I was only a few km from my destination so started walking, stopping off at a handy tourist information place on the way. After walking too far I doubled back and found the hostel handily perched on the side of West Lake, the main attraction of Hangzhou. I had some dinner at the restaurant next door and then headed into town. I’d realised that Hamilton v hearts was on today and thought that the obligitory Irish bar (The Shamrock) would have it. An hour later and after confusing many locals I got back to the hostel. Apparently The Shamrock had moved to a new location on the other side of town without telling me. Instead I sat in the hostel bar reading the text updates on the game. I wish I hadn’t bothered (2-1 Hamilton and 5 red cards, including one for the masseuse!). The bar was described at Wikitravel as lame and that is precisely what it was. The only other people there were 6 or so chinese staff watching soaps on DVD. I soon headed to bed.

I woke on the 7th of December ready to tackle the West Lake which dominates the city. The weather was very pleasant and I spent the day strolling along the picturesque banks, tree-lined  causeways and cobbled promenades. The trees still had their autumnal jackets on which made it all the prettier.

As I got round the south of the lake ( which is around 15km in circumference) I decided to visit Leifeng pagoda which dominates the hillside.  Dating back to 975AD, the current incarnation of the pagoda was only built in 2002 but it has good views over the lake so was worth a look and has some nice treasures which were discovered during the latest excavation.

Escalator(!) to Pagoda

Escalator(!) to Pagoda

My evening was a repeat of night before except I didn’t head to The Shamrock cos I learnt that lesson. I did see a couple of westerners but they were checking out. Apart from them it was just me and the Chinese tourists/staff. The hostel itself (Mingtown International Youth Hostel) is well situated and clean with decent facilities. If it was busy it’d be a good place to relax and meet people. Not in December it seems. I did finally get around to watching The Last King of Scotland though. It is nowhere near as good as the book but a decent enough watch. James McAvoy and Forest Whittaker were both excellent but the ending was a little abrupt and unbelievable.  I somehow managed to sleep even though 3 out of 5 of my Chinese roommates were snoring.

After a dumpling breakfast on the 8th of Dec I left the hostel and walked to Hangzhou Main Station (which is one of the ugliest buildings I’ve ever seen) to catch a train to Shanghai. Again it was a luxury train which got me into Shanghai East Station around 3pm.

Btw, using a simple google maps application I figure I’ve covered well over 18,000 miles so far (including 5 flights). If I’d used roads and rail  rather than ‘as the crow flies’ I’m sure it’d be closer to 20,000.  I don’t know if thats good or bad but with Australia next its going to increase by a fair bit.

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