Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 3:

Good bye Shanghai, hello Hangzhou!

It’s an 7am pick up and I’ve only had about 3hrs of sleep. Probably shouldn’t have gone out, but it was my last night in Shanghai *shrug*. The highways are crowded and it looks like every other highway anywhere else in the world. But we fly past small towns whose architecture looks unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Perhaps because it was just a glimpse, but it reminds me more of something out of Dr. Zhivago.

It isn’t until we turn away from the highway between Shanghai & Hangzhou that we drift towards Anji county & rolling hills of waving bamboo forests. I wished I could listen to the sound of the wind playing in the bamboo. I grew up with that sound as a child and it brings back memories of childhood days when there was no concern except to get out of having to take a nap.

Most companies opt for facilities far away from the big cities because the locals are a steady work force, far more reliable than migrant workers and if they are making patented technologies, you want to be in a place where a stranger is immediately recognized. Most Chinese facilities are sprawling operations, a tour can take up to 90mins, because you have to walk around 500,000 sq.ft.

In the sparsely furnished offices, there is a traditional Chinese bed in the corner. The sign says do not touch. These beds were pieces of furniture, it was also used as a chair, you could place a tea table in the center and sit two people comfortable. The other picture is a close up of the detailed carvings. It is magnificent.

My hosts are young, college educated Chinese who speak English with a fluency that shames me with my halting Mandarin. An older middle aged man, is either the owner or the driver, depends on the cut of the suit.

This is a small town that does not have a McDonalds or KFC, which they consider a treat. So we eat lunch at a small, unheated restaurant. It’s in the 30-40s, not uncomfortable, but I see my breath. So I look forward to tea. No one takes off their jackets; it’s just the normal thing for them.

This area is known for their white tea, which is so delicate and subtle, it tastes just like hot water, but with a hint of “elusive”. I don’t want to belittle it because it was good, not strong like oolong or green tea, but it had a taste. Similar to a memory that escapes you, but you know it makes you smile.

I ordered a bento box special, I thought I ordered fish, but it was a really chewy eel. Technically, an eel is a fish, so I guess I did order fish. I ate it, can’t be rude, it just isn’t in my nature. And I must be a good actor because they inevitably smile and give me more.

The drive to Hangzhou takes too long as well, trucks clog up the highway. Highways in China are toll roads with controlled exits. There are truck stops/rest areas. But there are so many trucks waiting to gas up that the line snakes into the right lane of the highway.

I have to find the video where we’re in a tunnel & my driver acts like he’s trying out for Nascar. But he must have seen my camera cuz he slowed down, but you can see when I swing the camera to the side, he’s awfully close to the car next to us! I’ll put it on flickr when I find it.

It’s dark by the time I make it into the Hangzhou Shangri La. They ‘lost’ my reservation and the only thing they have left is an expensive club level room. I’m too tired to argue. This hotel is so big, it’s got wings. I’m in the eastern wing. The room has a very tall ceiling, I probably could play a mean handball game. The furnishing are older, I think more as a statement of the “dowager lady” reputation of this hotel, than not being updated.

This is the lobby of the hotel, unbelievable. This isn’t just a painting, it looks like it’s carved; I didn’t touch it because it looked too beautiful to touch. I try to show the detail, but it doesn’t come close to its magnificence.

I'm trying to show you the details, it is detailed relief, I tried to get as close to a section as I could.

I stroll to the end of the hallway on my floor; it is a club level floor, so it has its own dining room. I just eat here. Then I notice that there is a balcony that I can walk around. It’s cold & rainy so no one else is out there, but I’m fearless. The evening lights from across the lake are too beautiful for me to ignore.

The maid knocks deferentially, asks if I need ice and wants to come in for my turn down service. When I try to give her a tip, she refuses. “It’s my job.” She tells me firmly, expecting no further argument from me.

It’s a king-size bed, I jump on it and bounce. I saw all these pillows and felt like a 4yr old, gathering the pillows around me building a fort in my bed.

It’s an 8am pick up for a quick meeting in the morning then I’m off to a really small town I’ve never heard of again. But it’s just one night in Hangzhou, I messed up on my itinerary, I just realized I won’t be able to do my laundry until Saturday!


  1. wow great pictures & lovely description to day 4!

  2. Hope you're enjoying the ride! I'm exhausted LOL!!!