January 8, 2009Before the scheduled departure date of our holiday travel, we made all our airline ticket booking (Manila-Shanghai-Manila) and hotel reservations through a travel agency, but decided to do the tour and sightseeing on our own.
Shanghai was our main entry point, and then we proceeded to Hangzhou and stayed for two nights at Hangzhou Zhongshan International Hotel. Then we went back to Shanghai and spent our New Year's Eve at Shanghai Sofitel Hyland Hotel in Nanjing Road. Then we transferred to Eton Hotel in Pudong area on New Year's Day. While in Shanghai, we also squeezed some day trips going to Suzhou and Nanjing by taking the China Railway High-speed bullet train.
Whew, four places and three hotels just for one week! Not bad at all, eh?
From Shanghai going to Hangzhou:
The drizzling rain turned into a shower, and the weather was very cold when we arrived in Shanghai, China. The day temperature plummeted below 5 degree Celsius. With our carry-on luggage, we hurriedly proceeded to the bus station located in the parking lot on the 2nd floor opposite to Gate 15 of Shanghai Pudong International Airport, to catch the 10:10 am trip to Hangzhou. In spite of our best efforts, we could not get any ticket as it had already been sold out. So, we took the 11:45 am bus trip (RMB 100 per person, fare as of Dec. 2008) and departed on time. I noticed there were actually no tourists that I saw except us and the four Caucasian guys. But unbelievably, they all speak fluent Mandarin.
It started getting pretty chilly and cold as we rode down the expressway. After half an hour of travel, I felt a twinge of discomfort in my bladder. To make things worse, I was virtually shivering while I sat in silence. (Even hb didn't notice my predicament). I was really frantic and bursting for a pee and wasn't sure how much longer I could hold on. I tried so hard to divert my attention by listening to my mp3 music. Thank God, after 15 minutes of torture, I couldn't believe all the discomfort was just gone. It was effective, huh! Ahhh, this is just one of the negative sides when you're traveling. I'm pretty sure most of you have already experienced this.
It took us another one and a half hour when we had a quick stopover. I was taken by surprise to see all the men on the bus including hb who went outside desperate to answer the call of nature (now I'm sure I was not the only one, hahaha), and some stayed for a while to smoke trying to keep warm during extremely cold weather. Finally we get started again to continue the rest of our journey.
where we had a stopover
Our ride took us three hours from Shanghai to Hangzhou. There was a heavy fog during our trip that had been close of reducing the visibility to less than 25 feet.
Hangzhou is 180 kilometers south of Shanghai. It is located at the southeastern coast of China, at the south end of Beijing-Huangzhou Grand Canal, and is the central city in the south wing of Yangtze River Delta. This place once served as one of the seven famous ancient capital in China. Hangzhou now is the capital city of Zhejiang Province.
Hangzhou city streets
The city is clean with untouched natural surroundings and well-ordered environment. I would say, it has a certain charm. It is also a major tourist destination and a famous city of cultural and historical heritage. In terms of beauty, Hangzhou pride itself on the picturesque West Lake and the magnificent Lingyin Temple and Peak Flying From Afar. For me this was an interesting aspect of our winter vacation. As for shopping, we also went to Hefang Street, a well-known marketplace.
When you plan to visit during winter season (December - February), be ready to dress thick sweater, leather, cotton and wollen clothes together with gloves and scarf. Most often, overcoat is needed.
Hangzhou uses only Chinese currency RMB. The unit of RMB is Yuan. Bank of China, other foreign exchange nominated banks, some hotels, marketplaces and airports can handle exchange of foreign currencies to RMB.
Aliens shall apply for visas with valid passports from Chinese diplomatic missions, consular offices or other resident agencies abroad authorized by Ministry of Foreign Affairs.