A Travellerspoint blog

the west lake at Hangzhou

battle of the bus, to add to battle of the hotel, but enjoying it all.

sunny 21 °C
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Monday 15th April - day 124

Up early pack and slip out of the dormitory. Meet Melia on the grand staircase. The Pujiang hotel is like an old public school, long dark corridors wooden paneling halfway up the walls. Catch bus 65 to central railway station. Thousands of people as always. I am led a merry song dance by three of these people in quick succession as they try to help me find the correct ticket office for Hangzhou. Somehow we find it halfway down the street, outside the railway station. Train departs 9 a.m., report back to Melia who has found her way into the foreigner's waiting room, a welcome oasis. Helpful old China man speaks good English and sells us a painless 6.40 yuan Remninbees ticket hard seat three hours to Hangzhou. Escorted to the train way we startled the carriage guard lady by getting into hard seat carriage. There’s a lady for each carriage.
I am the usual quintessence of international relations for the entire journey, although it tries my patience sorely.
At Hangzhou and enthusiastic young man helps us with bus information to the Jiefeng hotel (51 then a 4). At this point I realise that I’ve left my Mao cap on the train and cause a scene as I burst through the ticket barrier and rundown the platform chased by several lady guards screaming abuse. All smiles as my hat is passed out of the window. The entire train of 12 carriages is bristling with gawping faces pressed to windows.
The worst rugby scrum ever to get on bus number 51. Fear that Melia is left behind but I bellow down the bus and she answers back. Big fight to get off the bus. The old Chinese ladies are fierce. Fight our way onto number four bus. We are now on the town front by the famous West lake, it is beautiful especially as the sun is shining at last, after three weeks of rain and cloud. But everywhere is packed out with elderly Chinese tourists. These hardy folk make the Battle of the Bus more vicious even than in Beijing. Little old Chinese ladies are very tough and when packed like anchovies into a bus the resulting din is almost unbearable. Somewhat misjudged when to get off and have to catch another number four bus to retrace are steps. Walk to the Hanzhou hotel, an imposing affair, surrounded by eight foot walled gardens. Melia’s back pack is heavy. Gets the usual big denial to all questions from the receptionist. Our last question for refreshment also receives the 'no no', we ignore her and finding an empty room nearby make tea from the hot Thermos in the room. The receptionist displays no interest in us once we move away from her ‘service counter'.
Walk a further 5 km in surprisingly good spirits considering the tribulations of the journey so far, China hassle? no problem! This is the first bit of Chinese countryside I’ve really tramped over and its very pleasant in the afternoon sun. The air is scented with tea bushes, a surprisingly strong and pleasant smell, and other flowers grow in the woods. Rape is in flower splashing colour on the hillsides. The houses are solid structures, grouped to bigger buildings. It looks rather like France.
The Zhejiang is like a large upmarket holiday camp. There is invasion as a weightlifting meeting is being housed here. North and South Koreans, Iranians and Iraqis all heaving together. We are put into block 6, in five bed dormitory with big comfortable beds. Ostensibly the price is eight yuan. It has taken is all day to get this far and I settle onto the bed with Melia’s First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer. Read and snooze.
Have a row in the restaurant – my first in China! We are miles from any alternative restaurant and decide to settle for the set menu at 7 yuan. A La Carte not available today. We eat with an English fellow about to go up to Cambridge who I met earlier on the Yangtze river. He advises us that there is a local flavour restaurant hidden somewhere in the grounds. Melia however is a vegetarian which I explain to the waiter who brings a spiced cabbage dish. He goes off duty. At bill time the new waiter is quite adamant we should pay for two set meals. I stick to my guns, sporting a good humoured smile, explaining that the fellow is crazy asking for 7 yuan for a plate of cabbage. Which he was. The woman with better English arbitrates in a masterly manner we pay 8.20 yuan. However I’ve had much better meals for one yuan.
Sing loudly in the large showers.
My pityriasis is looking quite splendid.
Feel as high as a kite.

Posted by 1985 trip 16:00 Archived in China

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