Travel Journals #4 – To Hangzhou We Go!

If you couldn’t tell from my last post, I was getting a little stir crazy from the big city vibe of Shanghai. Therefore, bright and early on Thursday morning we unloaded our books and packed our clothes into our backpacks and headed to Hangzhou. Hangzhou is a moderately sized city about three hours away from Shanghai by train that is home to the scenic West Lake and numerous pagodas and small temples. It seemed to be a great getaway for our worn-down city souls.
From all of the travel sights that list Hangzhou as a “must see,” I was expecting a picturesque small city, with quaint and traditional charm. As I adjusted to the now fully risen sun, I was promptly slammed aside by a hurried traveler. It was then that I figured the travel sites may have left off a couple million people in their population count. Apparently moderately sized in China means Chicago not Louisville. Not to mention it was the day of the Mid-Autumn festival, and a popular tourist destination for even Chinese citizens. Oops. So far this was not at all what I was expecting upon leaving Shanghai.
Trying to remain positive, I embarked with my group on the two-hour trek to our hostel that was supposedly just off of the West Lake. The lake was crawling with tour buses, tourists, and normal citizens, and not as close to our hostel as it had seemed online. I’d almost given up all hope on Hangzhou when we finally arrived at our hostel. Nuzzled into the side of a hill, Fiona’s Trip Hostel is probably the cutest hostel in existence. The people were friendly, it was super clean, and they even had a wooden bathtub in one of the rooms. It was this kind of hospitality that I’d been missing after a few weeks in the city. hangzhou_hostel
After a quick jaunt around the hostel, we split up to enjoy the surrounding attractions at our leisure. A smaller group of us made our way up to one of the pagodas around the city, where we watched the full moon rise for the festival. It was a bit of a trek, but once you reached the top of the pagoda you could see all of Hangzhou alight for the festival. As the night enveloped the city, we made our way back to the lake where we spent the remainder of the first day chatting and making a few local friends.
The next day we “hiked” into the hills to see some of the other natural beauty the city had to offer. While the hike was more along the lines of an uphill sidewalk stroll, the surrounding scenery was not lacking—green hills, tea farms, temples, and homes all gently tucked into the side of the mountain. In several quick bursts of inspiration and energy, we all jumped off the paved path for a bit of exploration. On our way, we discovered old war memorials hidden just off of the path, a waterfall, and some pretty spectacular views of the surrounding farms. It wasn’t exactly what I’d imagined, but it definitely did not disappoint.
After we emerged from the mountain trail, the rest of the day was spent getting lost in the city until we finally found the time to make our way back home to Shanghai. Until next time…
by Morgan Whitehead ’15, currently participating in the Centre-in-China study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in China.
PHOTOS: We climbed to the top of this pagoda in Hangzhou (top of page); the view from outside of our hostel in Hangzhou (above right).

By |2013-10-02T14:20:57-04:00October 2nd, 2013|News, Study Abroad, Travel Journals - China|