To be honest, I wasn't planning on writing from Hangzhou. I had a feeling I was going to lounge around in bars by the side of the lake, soaking in the sunshine and debating the proper point of the bright sun in the sky where it was acceptable to swap from sampling local coffee to local beer, all while snacking on dumplings, local cuisine and trying not to fall too deeply in love with this place.
Well, yes, that is what I'm doing, but this city is deserving of a blog post, and so while I read a book and practise my Mandarin (我学习中文，可是我说得不好）, I thought I could type out a few words of praise.
The vast majority of the things here are fake, the originals were destroyed in the various wars that seemed to always manage to arrive here. It's a shame, because this is the first city I've been to here that seems to be determined to maintain its beauty. A veritable army of street cleaners and Lake cleaners make their way around, and I've yet to see a single piece of rubbish on the pathway; quite the achievement. The sun shines brightly here, and perhaps due to the majority of the vehicles being electric, the air is clear and fresh. Trees and flowers are in abundance, but despite all this greenery it truly is a hustling and bustling city. It's a wonderful balance between nature and noise, and I admit I'm quite taken with it.
A word of advice on if you're ever walking in a Chinese street. The scooters here are not petrol powered, but electric. So you don't hear anything except the wind rustling through their hair as they bear down on you - often on the pavement - leaving you with just a second to leap to safety, which in itself is probably into the path of another oncoming scooter.
Another thing that caught me out is that Chinese traffic lights do not distinguish between turning and going straight. So if you have a green light to walk, this does not actually mean that cars are prevented from driving towards you, merely that fewer are. I had quite the shock when I naively waltzed across a busy intersection and had to perform an interesting maneuver to dodge an oncoming Audi who had zero intention of slowing down. You have been warned.
Right, and with that brief post, I'm off to enjoy a pint in the sunshine before I go to visit the Confucius temple nearby. Did you know they worship him here? Learn something new everyday.
Back to full time travelling tomorrow, off to Guanxi in the South, to cycle through the hills of Yangshuo and Xingping and explore the countryside a little. Still, maybe from there or Hong Kong I can get some of these pictures online. I've been foiled at each attempt thus far, I apologise! Please do remember that I cannot currently access Facebook, so I can't respond to your messages (though Facebook is insistent on giving me a daily email telling me about them, I can't actually read them)
Thanks for reading!