Hello China!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2010
Trip End Feb 23, 2011

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Flag of China  , Zhejiang,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

So after my overnight stay in the dodgy hotel in Guangzhou I got a 20 hour train journey to Hangzhou to see my friend Ling (a Chinese guy who was at University with me in England) It was great to see Ling again, and I was able to stay with his family in their apartment, which was really really nice. His parents were very good to me, they cooked me food, put snacks in my room for me, and took me out for a meal! It was awesome.
Ling and I went off sightseeing during that weekend I arrived, which was brilliant when you have someone who knows the best places to go. I had loads of fun climbing on everything to the amusement of all the other Chinese tourists. Hangzhou is a wonderful city – very beautiful with a huge lake in the middle of it! We cycled around the city on the red communist bicycles that were free to hire, the best thing about the bikes was that they had a little bell on them which I used to their fullest potential! ;-)
Ling had to work on Monday so his father offered to take me to see some of the rural areas. This was a really cool day trip as I got to see some textile factories that he helped set up. It was fascinating to see where all our designer clothes come from, and many people would be shocked at how little the staff are paid. I asked about this and was told that these factories are actually helping to improve the livelihood of the villages where they are located. The staff may get paid very little, but their wage increases every year, and it is a lot more than they would earn if there was no factory. The woman who worked there would have to work as farmhands on the surrounding land, doing long hours for very little pay if the factories were not there. So in fact they all seemed very happy with the work. We went to 2 factories in total and when I left both I was given a box of tea!

I also met Lings twin brother and we all went out for beers in a pub that served beer in huge litre glasses! It was AWESOME!
My time in China was off to a fantastic start, and the longer I was here the more I liked it! All too soon I was leaving Hangzhou and heading north on a 15 hour train journey; destination Beijing, where more adventures lay waiting for me!  Check back soon for the next blog entry!

Irish Mark
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