January 8, 2009

Before 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.

Brief Summary:
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.

near the West Lake
some mascots promoting their business

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.

Toodles, until next time,
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  1. Never been to China but Hangzhou sure is clean and neat from what I see here

  2. so that's where you've been this past holiday season!

  3. brrrrrrrrrrr its cold in there.

  4. Hello there my friend! I found your blog very interesting so I have added your link in my Blogroll. I hope you'll link me back. Have a nice day!

  5. Way back in October of 2000, my wife and I joined a 10 day tour covering Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzshou and Suzhou which included roundtrip airfare from LA, hotel accomodations, local tours and all the meals for less than the price of a regular roundtrip ticket. I could not believe the deal but it was legit. I think nowadays, they still offer the deal but meals are no longer included, except for breakfast.

  6. been to HZ... not as clean as u thought...

  7. I think you write a very interesting blog!!! Congratulations!! I just put you on my blogroll at

    Keep on writing!
    Best regards from snowy Switzerland

  8. Hi Asian Traveler! New Year, Old Troubles... No, I’m not talking about the frosty weather, just the office... Another hectic week! ;)
    Here you have one destination I would love to visit; one of these days! Great post!!
    Thanks for your comments at Blogtrotter, now with new posts on Delhi! Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  9. Hi FoodieGymmie,
    I wonder, why you said that. For me, the city is clean. I have never seen the city look so dirty and no smelly trash at all. This observation was based on our travel experience which was less than two weeks ago. Although it was a bit rainy during our first day, the rest brought mostly a beautiful clear day and cold conditions. In fact, we enjoyed our stay and the weather was just perfect for winter. Perhaps we had a different experience. :)

  10. NIhua,Hangzshou is nice to visit

  11. Hi Hapi and Prechiblog,
    Thanks for the link and I've added your sites as well. :)

  12. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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AN ASIAN TRAVELER, Exploring Asia!