Hangzhou: Home of West Lake and Tandem Bikes
Written by Jinny Han (Colorado College)
CET Chinese Studies and Internship in Shanghai, Spring ’12
Last weekend, we spent our 3 day break in Hangzhou (杭州), which many consider to be one of the most beautiful towns in China. The CET students, along with our Chinese roommates and teachers, were able to experience both the city and the countryside of this dynamic city. Jeremy, The director of the CET Shanghai program, took us to one of his favorite restaurants nestled in the outskirts of West Lake, near the tea fields. The food was tasty, but I will say that it takes a while to get used to seeing a full chicken as a dish. After lunch we hiked the nearby tea fields and by hiked I mean went up A TON of stairs. It felt like a never-ending Stairmaster. But, our reward was the beautiful 360 degree view of West Lake. After being in Shanghai for a month, it was much needed break from the usual concrete and skyscraper landscape.
Obviously, every occasion calls for a sorority girl pose.
After, we traveled to the nearby Lingyin Temple and Fei Lai Feng, both of which has over 1400 years of history. The mountain sides were adorned with intricate grotto carving art and upon entering the temple, the hall was decorated with statues and carvings of Buddha.
After a grueling day of walking on our feet all day, we decided to get a traditional Chinese foot massage. Let me tell you, if you ever go to China YOU MUST GET A FOOT MASSAGE. They are heavenly. There is no other way to describe it. They even do the traditional suction cup on the foot thing. It looks absolutely terrifying before they put it on your foot, solely because it looks like they are going to set you on fire. But, believe me, it feels amazing.
The next day I finally have the opportunity to ride my first tandem bike!!! It’s always been on my list of things to do. My though process was: I’m only going to be in Hangzhou once, NO SHAME JINNY. NO SHAME. So Christine and I got the worst possible tandem bike. The most important part of the bike was broken, THE BRAKES. Our method of braking was yelling out “STOP” and then jamming our feet on the ground. Also, the front wheel was crooked which made it hard to steer. You can see how weaving through traffic and thousands of Chinese people would be both difficult and extremely dangerous. But, we came out in one piece and with many great stories.
The last day and a half was spent at Xiejiaqiao (谢家桥) village, around 2.5 hours away from Hangzhou. This village is unique because the farmers harvest Pecans, a highly profitable crop. Therefore, the village was recently renovated with new multi-level houses. When we got in, we got to eat a great country-style meal and after we were led to a giant bonfire with a surprise celebration for the American students! Everyone was warm and welcoming and we got to see some traditional Chinese dances. When it was our turn to show everyone American culture, we had the opportunity to grace everyone with the beautiful American traditional dance of holding hands and skipping around a fire. FAIL. Before we left to go back to Shanghai, we had the opportunity to hike up to a grassy mountaintop with a reservoir full of clean blue water. Overall, this trip exposed us to the rural side of China and the natural beauty that China has to offer. Plus, I got to ride a tandem bike through the busy streets of China, what else could I have asked for??