Last weekend, our school took us on a weekend trip to Hangzhou, a city in China’s Zhejiang Province. All of us students and our Chinese roommates boarded a 16-hour night train to southern China. Half of the time we were sleeping, and the other half was spent chatting and playing games. Our favorite during the train ride was Mafia. The roommates taught us the Chinese way of playing it, and we taught them the American way. The real difference was that the way that we played it was with a storyteller telling a story when somebody got attacked by the mafia players. In the end, we mixed up our two different versions and created our own little twist on the game. It was really exciting to play this because you really needed to rack your brain and try to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s lying; when it was time to pinpoint the mafia, the discussions got extremely intense. It was also very funny hearing everyone argue in Chinese.
The five main places we visited in Hangzhou were 西湖 xīhú (West Lake), 灵隐寺 LíngYînSì (Ling Yin Temple), 飞来峰 Fēiláiféng (Flying Peak), the Bamboo-lined path at Yunqi, a Tea Leaf planting area, and Qinghefang Ancient Street –where our hotel was located.
Walking around the West Lake was probably the most memorable part of our trip. The park around the lake is huge, and there are 10 different tourist spots that you can visit. There wasn’t time to visit them all, but one very important one was ‘Three Pools Mirroring the Moon,’ three stupas staked in the lake. It’s the scene pictured on the Chinese 1-dollar-bill/yuan!
The park that the West Lake was located in was HUGE. There’s so much to see in the park! At one point, we rode a boat to another side of the lake, and at another point, we decided to take a break from the park and rent bicycles and ride along the perimeter of the park. I was really just following one of the roommates around, the lake was too big for me to figure it out on the map.
I really love being outdoors. Beijing’s pollution has been really intense lately. The average pollution level in the past few weeks was usually anywhere from 150 – 300 (the US Embassy recommends wearing a face mask when it’s 150). So this trip to Hangzhou was literally like a breath of fresh air. Climbing the mountain (and bamboo) was also great exercise, because let’s be honest… I needed it.
I truly enjoyed our little mini-vacation in Hangzhou. It’s completely different from Beijing. Beijing is in the north, Hangzhou is in the south. Beijing has pollution, Hangzhou has clear skies. Beijing is a city, Hangzhou is more like the countryside. My only complaint about our trip was that it was too short, I definitely could’ve stayed for a few more days!
金羽庭 (Jin YuTing)