Mesmerising Hangzhou – My China Debut
All my life, I’ve always heard stories about China from my family and friends -from the Great Wall, scenic nature to modernisation and the unrivalled lavish lifestyles of the ultra-rich. To be honest, being a Malaysian Chinese, of half Teochew and half Hokkien descent, it never really dawn upon me to find my roots. I can’t imagine going back to the village of Teochew in China to reintroduce myself as their extended family. Okay, the truth is that I’m really bad in Mandarin and couldn’t even write my own name in Chinese!
Somehow, when planning for our annual holiday in 2019, Shanghai came to mind. Perhaps I was intrigued to find out how I’d feel stepping foot in China for the very first time in 38 years. Also, there’s Disneyland for my kids to immerse themselves in the set of their favourite Disney characters! So, my family and I decided to stopover Hangzhou based on some itinerary recommendations from many blogs and from TripAdvisor.
The short 3 days spent in Hangzhou turned out to be truly amazing as we’re mind-blown by the beauty of its scenery, the advancement of technology use, warmth of the locals, quality of food and crazy shopping experience! The ladies in my family will attest to this. Oh, the weather was truly perfect for typical Malaysians who love driving up to Genting Highlands to experience cool breeze. Hangzhou in December is the best time to visit as the temperature ranges between 1 to 13 degree Celcius.
So here’s what’s worth highlighting, hopefully enough to inspire you to experience Hangzhou when Covid-19 pandemic is history.
From skewers to fine dining Chinese cuisine and even fresh fruits from stores, you can experience the stunning freshness and exquisite taste of local Hangzhou foods. Price is affordable, significantly lower if compared to Kuala Lumpur’s standard of living. My personal favourite is Xin Bai Lu, located nearby West Lake.
If you like hand-made crafts by the locals, T-shirts with cool designs, small shops along West Lake will definitely bring out the hoarder in you. We came back realising we bought way too many ‘cute’ stuff we don’t really need but it was fun, especially for the kids! Then, there’s also the serious shopper’s prize – from high fashion to branded streetwear all concentrated in one location – Yin Tai West Lake. (Lookout for Hubin Yintai In77)
3. West Lake
A freshwater lake surrounded by temples, pagodas, gardens and islands within the lake accompanied with cold breeze and an eventual warning of possible storm! My favourite moment was definitely the smiles and laughter captured during our boat ride across the enormous lake.
4. City of Neons
Skyscrapers and apartments with excessive use of neons are commonly seen in Hangzhou and even more so in Shanghai!
Here are some of the memorable scenes of Hangzhou, a city I won’t miss but would definitely come back for lots of fun!
Oh, remember to load-up your AliPay e-wallet to ensure uninterrupted fun as most businesses here do not accept credit card nor cash. Payment via QR is used extensively which demonstrates the speed and stability of China’s technology infrastructure to implement IoT applications (such as claw machines and various types of vending machines) almost flawlessly.
I’m impressed, China. Really.