Ruth and Kenny in China aka How to see as much of China in 10 days (Part 1).

16 Apr

Ruth and Kenny left on Friday afternoon after an action-packed 10 days with us in China. We did a lot. Walked A LOT. A relaxing holiday it was not, hehe, sorry!

The itinerary: Ningbo, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and back to Ningbo. In ten days.

Ningbo: 3 nights (2 full days), easing them in gently.

What we did: These were probably our most relaxed days. We let them overcome their jetlag and general Edinburgh-Berlin-Beijing-Ningbo travel weariness (let them…haha…little did they know what was coming up!). We showed them downtown Ningbo, Dave’s work, drove around our neighborhood on e-bikes… we dragged them to little whole-in-the-walls in Gulou sampling various luke-warm Chinese beers, spent our pennies in a typical Chinese games arcade (we are now all addicted to shooting hoops), took them to Britain’s favourite supermarket, Tesco’s, dragged them to our local drinking hole in Laowaitan where half of Ningbo’s expats were celebrating the Chinese bank holiday “Tomb Sweeping Day” by getting a good drink in the night before.

What we ate: Yunnan at Ashma Courtyard, all-you-can-eat-and-drink Teppanyaki, street food, Little Nuts (that’s the name of a café) cheese toasties.

Noteworthy: the lesbian bar we found in Gulou (much to Clif’s delight, because he teaches Gender and Sexuality, not because he’s a perv), the leg of lamb and the fried cheese at Ashma Courtyard, going for a long e-bike drive in the warm spring weather by the end of which we were chugging along at 10km/h because both the bikes’ batteries were giving up.

Hangzhou West Lake: 2 nights

What we did:  We had to take a god-awful early train at 6:45am because it was National Tomb Sweeping Day and everything else was sold out by the time we bought our tickets.

However, it also meant that we were in Hangzhou, checked in at our hotel and having breakfast/lunch at lovely café by 11am.

A good way to get around the lake is by bike and for a 300RMB deposit and a 2RMB/day fee you can rent a little orange bicycle that you can pick up and drop off at various points around the city. There not the greatest bikes but they do the job, however we had forgotten that it was a public holiday which means any minor tourist attraction in China becomes mobbed with people. And West Lake is not a MINOR attraction, it is a MAJOR one and MOBBED would be an understatement.

By the time we cycled to the south-western part of the lake where the Leifeng Pagoda stands traffic was gridlocked, the sidewalk was just a sea of bobbing black-haired heads and every car, trike, tour bus, local bus, minivan was beeping its horn and people on bikes were furiously ringing their bells. I have never seen anything like it. (My trip to the gardens in Suzhou was a walk-in the park in comparison.) And our two fresh-off-the-boat visitors just had panic written on their faces.

Needless to say we decided to abandon the cycling idea and dropped off our bikes at the next drop-off station that didn’t come quick enough. The crowds thinned a little once we got on the Su Causeway and into the gardens.

On the Su Causeway.

In the "less crowded" gardens.

I went all Chinese and took a picture of every blooming cherry tree.

We checked out the night market (unimpressive unless you want to buy a different iphone case for every day of the year) and Qinghefang Old Street for souvenirs and general merry browsing.

What we ate: Hangzhou’s two most famous dishes, xī hú cù yú and Beggar’s chicken, were devoured at Louwailou Restaurant, apparently Hangzhou’s most famous restaurant.

Xī hú cù yú is a whole carp, lightly battered and fried, and swimming in a sweet-vinegary sauce that tasted just like HP sauce. It was basically like getting a really, really good fish supper at the chippie.

Beggar’s Chicken is chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and then baked in clay. Louwailou’s version comes stuffed with minced meat and a soy-ginger gravy and the chef cracks it open at your table. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Demolished!

We also had a very mediocre Indian at Haveli but we went there predominantly to watch the live belly dancing interludes.

Noteworthy: the afore-mentioned Beggar’s Chicken and the day Dave had a handlebar moustache.

Come back tomorrow for the Shanghai leg of the trip!

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4 Responses to “Ruth and Kenny in China aka How to see as much of China in 10 days (Part 1).”

  1. Merle April 17, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Thanks for the tour mira! Dave really suits a handlebar! Merle xx

    • miravakily April 17, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      Haha, he does, doesn’t he? So many Chinese asked for his picture that day!

  2. Ruthie April 17, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    We enjoyed reading this. We like your blog! Xx
    P.s got a new game for you to get addicted to. It’s called ‘scramble with friends’ xx

    • miravakily April 17, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      Noooooooo! I’m already addicted to Whirly Word and Unblocked that you showed me. Have you tried ‘Draw Something’?

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