Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
25Trip End Jul 24, 2010
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Since the last entry a lot has happened, so brace yourselfs for a blog of epic proportions... you have been warned...
Having arrived in "Shanghai's back garden" a day after the almighty Huang Shan adventure, our legs took a well earned rest, resulting in a 10:30 lie in. It was then that we hired 5 bikes (Ollie's and Stef's proving to be considerably smaller than the others) and completed a circuit around West Lake. The cycle was thoroughly enjoyed and provided an aesthetically pleasing view throughout the duration of the trip. Along the way we stopped off at Hangzhou's pagoda. Having seen many a pagoda in our time, we thought it best to have a gander around it's surroundings
As evening rapidly approched we headed towards Hefeng street (or Hangzhou's 'ancient culture street'). Feeling brave we sampled a few of the local delicacies: Dragon Whisker Sweets were a real work-out for the jaw, and a couple each was more than enough. We soon headed further down the street and enjoyed the bustling carnival atmosphere at such a late hour. It was then that two members of the group decided, rather spotaneously, to have a self portrait done. Keeping the models anonymous, (it was Jon and Dan) half an hour later the portrait was complete. Let's just say that they are no Mona Lisa, and since completed have been stuffed at the bottom of two bags.
Hangzhou was a great place and we had a good time, the painfully early train to Suzhou the next morning however, seemed to leave a bitter note on the beautiful lakeside city...
The penultimate leg of our escapade around China saw us stop off at Suzhou, the end of the silk road and home to some of China's most remarkable gardens
With little going wrong in China it was about time we experience some difficulties. The train and taxi journey proved easy enough but what followed was a bit of a palava. Arriving at Tuahuawoo Hostel at precisely 10:00 hours, with heavy bags and heavy heads (we failed to get much sleep the night before), we strolled in assured that it would only be a short while until we could collapse on a bed. Unforntunately it wasn't to be. For some inexplicable reason the hostel had not recieved our booking. Without going into too much detail, Stef ended up picking the ace of hearts (the short straw), and slept in a dorm of 6 for the first night alone. What a hero! The next night, however, joy was restored as we played lots of pool and had a go on the free Spiderman climbing wall. A couple of hours later, feeling a little more rested, we headed on to the nearest Hutong and found a gem of a restaurant. The food was on par with the Beijing cuisine and we indulged in several large plates of deliciousness.
The following day we were up to our usual antics and hired some bikes. Twenty minutes later, after stopping off at '85 degrees' Bakery, we had arrived at The Humble Administrator's Garden. Shocked at the extortionate prices (70 flippin' yuan) we ended up paying and waltzed around the 5 acre oasis, breathing in the preciously clean air
Another early morning train and we were on our way to Shanghai...
At about 10:30am, we sailed gleefully past the Shanghai YHA on our way to our prebooked 3-bedroom suite at New Harbour Service Apartments! Thanks to Simon Mackinnon, a friend of the Slaters, we've been put up in an amazingly plush apartment for the durations of our stay in Shanghai
We reluctantly left our apartment and headed off for some market shopping shortly after lunch (Jon had quite a list of things to bring back!) Jon and Ollie headed for the Shanghai equivalent of the silk market, whilst Stef, Tim and Dan went to Yu Gardens - both Dan and Stef returned with some fantastic Chinese teasets for an astonishingly cheap price! On our way back to the hotel we visited the Bund and witnessed Shanghai's incredible and iconic skyline first hand - what an amazing place! It was soon time for the spa, where we rested our weary bodies for the evenings activites.
A friend of Simon's has kindly agreed to show us around the city, and we met him in the lobby at 6.30. Henry was brought up in Shanghai but has just finished his second year at Pennsylvania Uni. After chatting for a while Jon and Henry worked out that they had a close friend in common - it's a small small world. We enjoyed a fantastic local meal with Henry, sampling some fantastic traditional Chinese cuisine and finding out a little more about the city. After a late trip to see the Bund by night we called it a night and headed back to the beloved apartment..
This morning we rose early again to visit the World Expo. It was a great day, and we saw a huge variety of pavilions from all over the globe. England's was quite a spectacle, but for the main countries, queues could last well over 6 hours, so we stuck to the smaller pavilions... Some of the architecture was quite incredible, particularly the main Chinese pavilion, and we largely agreed that the outside of the buildings was probably more of a spectacle than the inside. By 18.00 we were worn out (and the spa called!) so headed 'home'.
Before we go we'd like to apologise for the lack of pictures but technology seems to be against us - we will update again and add photos within the next few days so stay tuned!!
Must dash - time for a late night jacuzzi!