Apr 22 2018

The Westlake 西湖 in the morning

Hangzhou’s Westlake is beautiful, every day of the year.

It’s more enchanting when it’s quite. My first photo is taken at 5:29 am. Sofitel cross street is a huge motivation to get up early. A mere hour later the crowds arrive and the intimate ambiance is gone. So am I.

Apr 21 2018

Sofitel Westlake

333 West Lake Avenue
Hangzhou, 310002
Zhejiang Province, China

Will return.

An excellent location – cross street from the Westlake. It’s not new but they try to make most out of it.

A couple of little situations – they’re cross board in China: long check in and out line; check in time the room isn’t ready; thick smoke in the public bathroom (lobby, etc.).

We got to the hotel at 1:15 for 2 pm check in; and our room is not ready when we returned at 2:39. I wasn’t pleased and ask them to serve us champagne while waiting. The joke is on me because we’re on the 5th floor with executive lounge privilege. They ended up giving me a bottle. Oh well.

The staff is helpful and pleasant. The 5th floor executive lounge is a perfect place to watch the sunset, without crowds. One of the red wines Perle is pretty good.


Nov 9 2014

Zhejiang 浙江省

Chekiang is an eastern coastal province in China, bordering Jiangsu, Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangxi, Fujiang and East China Sea.

Jun 22 2014

Yoga by the West Lake

Xihu @ Hangzhou.


Jun 22 2014

West in the East

On our way, by train from Shanghai to Hangzhou, we passed by many towns that it’s houses are building with steeples. Is it East meets West or, West in the East?
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Jun 22 2014

Hangzhou 杭州

The capital of Zhejiang province in China. More pix on piwigo, and on FB,
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Sep 4 2011

Shanghai 魅力江南八日游

Nexus Holidays offer a tour that was hard to refuse: 6 nights of 4 stars hotel plus 3 meals a day, all for US$49 per person. Kid under 18 adds additional $200; plus tips for the guide US$48 per person ($8 x 6 days). P.S. This kind of tour becomes a main stay.

I first learned it from my cousin Don in VA which offered it at US$99, then my cousin Sophie in LA told me it’s only US$49. Since I’ve never traveled with my Jiujiu and family so I decided to join them even it’s inconvenient my already booked/planned schedule.

We took the newly minted CRH Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway 京沪高速铁路, departing Beijing South Station at 8am on Friday July 29, arrived in Shanghai safely little before 1pm. It cost ¥550. In the aftermath of the Wenzhou CRH D301 and D3115 train rear-end accident that happened on July 23, we didn’t have any choice. My initially wish was to take the overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai, mainly for Pumpkin to experience it. But since the Beijing-Shanghai express starts running, many overnight trains, on the face of overwhelming complain, was being eliminated. I simply couldn’t get any tickets. Another story, another time.

The tour put us at MingYue 明悦 (上海浦東新區崮山路50 號) in Pudong, departing for the tour the following morning July 30, after breakfast. Over all, the tour is good, hotels were better than the lunches/dinners. Buffet breakfasts were at the hotels, generally ok. We have a baby-sitter tour guide who with the bus driver were with us 24/7; collected our passports at night for hotel check in, etc. At each city, the company would send a local guide who did the selling guiding.

Not sure IF there is talking point enforced by the company but the tour guides all uniformly echoed few themes:
– China, undeniably is doing pretty good, although there are many improvements to be made; please give us a break little time
– 孝顺 filial piety
The guides are well informed and worldly, they never hesitated in telling you that they, too, traveled the world. They can be sarcastic about China; openly talked about their personal experience/lives which made the conversations – even they were the one did the talking mostly – the more enjoyable.
It’s my first time joining a China tour. Few tour mates/cousins told me that this is pretty first class, in comparison to the local tours they experienced in the past. Perhaps Nexus wants to impress 统战 the overseas Chinese. I wasn’t prepare for the shopping element. Before the tour, Sophie said we would not buy anything. Ya right. .. We ended up spent our children’s college tuition. We wrote IOU at the jade store; we borrowed money from the baby sitter at Hangzhou, in order to buy Longjin, the dragon well teas. Heck, we even wrote I owe you for the tips. How charming! I couldn’t believe they, the stores and the tour guide would engage in such risky business!
Those stores we visited were all tour sponsors. However, there were never pressure to buy. It’s us who couldn’t resist.
As we drove back to Shanghai from Hangzhou after lunch (we always traveled to the next city after lunch), the baby sitter guide began telling us more about himself.
He’s the fourth child of a rural family, born in 1980. By the time, one child policy was already pushed to the countryside. So his parents considered to gave him away due to financial constrain but ultimately decided to pay the ¥250 fine, to keep him. He said many kids called him 250 二百五 which in Mandarin slang, means an insult: stupid person or simpleton. He would become the first college educated child of the family. During his college years, to help pay for his tuition, he went to Shenzhen for a summer job, as a shipyard labor. He earned a grand ¥2000+. When he went home, upon seeing him, his mother turned her head slightly to wipe away her tears: he was dark and extremely skinny. He said, he pretended not seeing her cry. He got me teared on this. Mothers.
He just got married a few years ago; they are expecting their first child this October. His father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer shortly after their marriage and purchasing of their apartment. His wife suggested to sell the apartment to help pay for the medical bills. He said he’s extremely moved by her devotion to her parents and loved her all the more. His father-in-law died a year later; left behind a ¥400,000 bill (after the insurance).
At the end of long talk, he gently asked for the tip. I thought it’s part of the package, no asking is needed. However, he said it’s US$60 ($8 x 7.5 days), and can be more or can be less. Hmmmmm… both advertisements in the USA printed $48. In any case, IOU him ¥800 for the two of us – Jiujiu would send the money: ¥2500 for the teas and ¥2400 tip (for the six of them), plus my share of tips from Beijing, a total of ¥5,700.
People in our group are predominately China-born. There were few Chinese from Australia, south east Asia, Taiwan. A black lady with a while husband who’s business partner with one of the Dads on the bus. The tour offers only Mandarin or Cantonese because the tour aims at: interested in China? Then learn the language.

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Aug 2 2011

The riders in Hangzhou

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Aug 2 2011

Dragon Well tea village 梅家坞

After West Lake and the park, we visited tea village of 梅家坞 Meijia Wu Youtube video


According to wiki, there are four tiers of tea:





According to this lady tour guide, she claimed that Meijia Wu has the best terrain among five villages.

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We did tea tasting. The teas they were trying to sell, was so so because the leaves were ugly, and broken up. The good dragon well tea’s leaves are whole and large. I didn’t buy but my cousin did. The tour guide kept encouraging us to charge the purchase to our USA credit cards and promised that they would pay for the transaction fee. I made other purchases on the tour and when I looked at my cc statement, did I realize they charged as a US$ denomination merchant.

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Out side of our hotel room, we found a marriage certificate. I handed it to the front desk and hope they’ll find its owner. (in storage)

Aug 2 2011

By the West Lake

After the boat ride, we visited this park by the lake. Aside from crowds, we saw a girl pees by the curb when the bathroom is just over the bushes. After lunch, we were taken to the tea village.


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