16.11.2016 Hangzhou 

We had planned for an admin day as both the BBC and Mo Weather said it would be raining all day. So we were slightly surprised to see the sun shining and hazy skies when we finally opened our (very effective) curtains. 

Feeling obliged to see anything of Hangzhou without a layer of smog and pollution we got ourselves out of the room, by 11am. 

Bananas and oranges purchased for breakfast and we were off. We got distracted walking down different streets and seeing some street art installations (as I believe they would be called at home!!!). A bike concreted into the wall was the one that caught our eyes. 

The smell of stinky tofu catches you unawares as you walk around the town. It is the region’s speciality so we need to get used to the rancid smell. 

We saw some weathered old steps ascending the back of our street so decided to explore. The narrow pathway meandered over rooftops of the ‘old’ city and it was nice to be above the crowded, tourist streets (and that stinky tofu smell). 

We walked passed bunk beds in a disused old room, maybe squat or maybe lodgings for workers. We ended up at some temples with plenty of open spaces for locals to eat, drink tea, play cards and mah jong, practice tai chi and stick fighting. There was even a yoga centre at the top, but no lessons going on For slightly out of practise westerners. 

The landscaping was beautiful with plenty of green shrubs and grasses, and flowers still in bloom, we even saw some bird of paradise flowers seemingly growing wild. For the first time on this trip I was missing my garden. 

The view at the top was obliterated by the number of trees on the hilltop but it made for a shady and peaceful setting. 

We made our way to a noodle cafe we had eyed up previously. We went in and pointed at food, it was promptly cooked and that was then put in front of us. Who needs to learn the language?  Well, it would be useful to know as we ended up with the weird, expanding, wriggly rice noodles, that you cannot chew and one of mine looked like an embryo. The soup was ok, very vinegary so Guy liked it more than me. Still, so far we had not had any dumplings today so that was a change. 

As the promised rain still hadn’t appeared we carried on back to the lake to get some photos of the place without smog (or atmosphere, as we were calling it now) . Guy was in his element. I looked on, advising (or teasing) him. 

We needed groceries for the 6 hr train trip we were doing on Friday so another trip to Carrefour ensued. It would be rude not to buy red wine whilst we were there, and we are not rude people, so 2 bottles were purchased along with interesting looking pot noodles, hawthorn berry sugar sweets and sunflower seeds. 

On the way home we went to a street stall that consistently had queues, we weren’t sure what it was for so decided to queue and find out. The menu is below, courtesy of Google translate, which didn’t help us tremendously. 

We had a pork and chicken varieties (according to the young lad in charge) and waited 20 mins for an unremarkable small pasty. Pastry was crumbly but filling was uninspiring. 

We then got some Chairman Mao pork, Dungpo Pork, from another street stall which was good, but still not as good as the plateful we had in Qufu. 

We then had a lovely evening in our gorgeous room, diarying, internet searching, chatting and listening to music (no Coldplay or Adele though 😂) and drinking delicious red wine that was only a fiver a bottle. 

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