We got up at 4am this am to grab a taxi to the airport. Our driver didn't speak English but communicated well regardless. He was able to point out various sites on the way to the airport as well as identify the old Mao Tse Tung airport. It looks a lot like the old Dress Regional!
We flew 'domestic' today; from Beijing (where the smog has gotten worse in the last 2 days) to Hangzhou (west of Shanghai) on Chinese Eastern Airlines. In the 2 hour flight, we were served a boxed breakfast and beverages both before and after the food! There is smog here as well but no where near as bad as Beijing.
Upon arrival we got another taxi into the city (bumper cars again!) and found Chang and her friend Evon at the hotel waiting for us. The hotel is newer and the air conditioner works really well--a God send since the temp is in the high 90's. We took a walk to West Lake (more on that later with pictures).
Andy has been very popular in both cities. His picture has been taken close to a dozen times--people want their pictures made with Westerners. No one looks less Chinese than Andy with his American physique, grey beard and Gators ball cap--he's going to become the international spokesman next!
We have recovered from our 'tour de West Lake' and are off to dinner. More later....
Tuesday, 10 August in Hangzhou
FYI: we are not at risk from the mudslide situation. That is in another part of China entirely. The oil drums that escaped in Dalian, however, are across the bay from Yantai. Word has it that all is well.
Hangzhou is located southwest of Shanghai and is a modern city with agriculture still playing an important role. Flying in we saw lots of rice paddies and on the drive in from the airport, large neighborhood gardens were the rule. The architecture is very interesting--so far we haven't had an opportunity to take a picture of the housing but we'll keep trying!
The children seek us out. They want to say 'hello' which in many cases seems to the be the extent of their English. Today we spoke with a young man who wanted to chat but didn't have enough vocabulary to ask or answer questions. Of course, he still spoke more English than we did Chinese!
We met Liu Chang and her friend Evon (that's the English version, the Chinese is Xiao Evon--now you know why we call her Evon!). Chang and Evon have been friends since attending high school together. Evon studies Administration at a university in the extreme northeast part of China.
Chang has never been to this part of the country before so we are all sharing an adventure.We visited West Lake today. It is a huge body of water (at least 20 times the size of the lake Sunday). The landscaping is beautiful with weeping willows, southern magnolia, over 6 varieties of rhodendrons that I identified (one over 30' tall!) and over 8 varieties of azalea--this place must be stunning in spring! It was soothing, restful and much cooler than the streets. Temps were pushing the high 90's with 100 forecast for Wednesday (39C sounds so much better!).
Andy says he's going to start going to charge for posing. As noted earlier today, he is much sought out for photographs! We still haven't found General Tsao's chicken but have tasted some wonderful other dishes. Today we had spinach with garlic, fresh fish (perch-like) in a brown sauce that was sweet and delightful, bamboo--milder than asparagus and very tasty. For dinner we had a variety of dishes via a buffet at the hotel--we were too tired to walk any further!
We'll head to Wuzhen (sure that's not the correct spelling). It is the Venice of China. We will get up at 5 and take a 3 hour bus ride there and then a boat ride to see the area. It is northeast of Hangzhou.
Stay tuned . . .