A very Chinese hotel/ 7-hour buses to Shanghai [YQasia Day 8 Oct 3]

a very chinese hotel

Location: Feng Shu Ling to Shanghai

Last night, Lilian mentioned that she’ll be coming down from her place to the hotel to breakfast with us. She and her husband discussed what time they would come:

Mr Lilian: It won’t be very early.
Lilian: Yup, about 7:30am.

My jaw kind of dropped when I heard that. 7:30am is very for us indulgent people. Still, we all have to cooperate so I woke up at 6:45am to pack my bags.

A very Chinese hotel

Since yesterday’s post was about Lilian’s wedding, I need to tell you a bit about the hotel she put us up at.

Lilian kindly booked us a room for the night since the dinner ceremony would end quite late. (7:30pm!) When she checked us in, she had to borrow someone else’s identity card because the little hotel cannot accept foreigners.

I asked Lilian to explain why. She said that only certain hotels can accept foreigners since there would be major problems if the visitor faces problems (aka dies) while staying in the hotel.

Since Lilian booked too many rooms, Nicole and I each had a room. My room had 2 single beds and a view of the countryside. I didn’t get to see the countryside at night as it was too dark.

A very Chinese hotel

The bathroom had a squatting toilet and a shower. My shower didn’t have hot water in the morning but it had loads the previous night. In the toilet was a curtain with a naked girl. I thought that was very weird. (Though not as weird as the erotic name cards we received in Ibis.)

I lit a mosquito coil during the night and kept the cutains closed. I felt faint from what could be the fumes that night. At least I didn’t died.

Breakfast in Feng Shu Ling

A vrey Chinese breakfast

All the guests had breakfast at an eatery nearby. There, Lilian introduced us to 米羹 (mi geng), a rice paste-like dish with some local chili sauce and preserved vegetable. She explained that the dish was made during war times when food was scarce. The villagers put together all the rice they have as well as the veggies. Out came this special dish.

Other food served was a pancake with preserved vegetables (again!) and bits of meat. There was also sweet soy bean milk and runny, plain rice porridge as well as tea eggs (eggs boiled in tea).

Bus to Qiandao Hu

After breakfast, Nicole and I waited for the bus back to Qiandao Hu. We would need to catch the 13:50 bus to Shanghai.

Lilian’s husband, Mr Lilian, was very helpful with the bus. He even ran across the street when the first bus at 9am came. Unfortunately, that bus was full so we had to wait for the 10am bus.

Lilian was more anxious than us and asked if a local could drive us to Qiandao Hu. As the lady driver was getting ready, another bus came. Mr Lilian went to check if the bus was leaving soon. Turns out, it was the 10am bus but it came out earlier to pick up passengers and would leave early if there were enough passengers.

So Nicole and I, as well as Lilian’s cousin, got on the 10am bus. We said farewell to the newlyweds and waited patiently for the bus to leave.

Unfortunately, the bus didn’t fill up as fast as I hoped. In the end, the bus left as its usual timing.

The road to Qiandao Hu was rocky. Even though I was napping throughout the 2-hour journey, I felt the bus sway from left to right. The driver even had to honk frequently on the narrow road.

Let’s just fast forward to the Qiandao Hu bus station since the first bus journey was very boring. At the Qiandao Hu bus station, Lilian’s cousin sent us off until the waiting room. Nicole had to tell the cousin that we would be alright alone before she left.

Qiandao Hu bus station

Bus to Shanghai

A very Chinese traffic jam

Soon, it was our turn to board the bus. The bus was quite full. I sat next to an older lady who shifted the airconditioning shaft directly at me. -_-”

As we zipped through the highways to Shanghai, I was surprised at how developed China is. There were multiple high-raised roads (is that how you call them) and buildings on the side of the road either soared up high into the sky or were built in the strange format preferred by rich farmers. These strangely shaped houses are usually painted gray and are at least 3 storey high. They look like milk-boxes with roofs inspired by ancient Chinese roof tiles. It gave an impression of a mix of the west and China but in a jarring way.

At the beginning of the journey, I watched the very lame movie. It was about killer giant crocodiles. The movie was predictable so I napped in short bursts along the way.

A very amazing Chineserest stop

We stopped at a rest stop and the driver game us only 10 minutes. He warned everyone not to get instant noodles too.

Unfortunately, we got back onto the bus late. The driver yelled at me in his extra loud voice: DO YOU WANT TO FIND YOUR OWN TRANSPORT TO SHANGHAI?

I went back to my seat meekly and watched the other movie. I think it was The Transporter with the very buff Jason Standham. (?)

We reached Shanghai sooner than I thought. We got off the bus at 6:30pm and took the metro to our hotel.

Upgraded hotel suite

Our hotel room was upgraded to a suite because they ran out of double bed rooms.

Then we went in search of food, stopping by Watson on the way.

Since Costa Coffee had free WI-FI, Nicole and I holed ourselves up at the café to update our social networks. We also made reservations for a buffet lunch tomorrow. Cannot wait!

Follow my (2 weeks late) adventures in China:

Day 1 Misadventures at Hangzhou Airport [YQasia Day 1 Sep 26]
Day 2 Swindlers and bicycle misadventures at West Lake
Day 3 Bike returning at West Lake/ Staying with a cute baby [YQasia Day 3 Sep 28]
Day 4 To Thousand-Island Lake by bus [YQasia Day 4 Sep 28]
Day 5 Tour of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) [YQasia Day 5 Sep 30]
Day 6 Buying tix to Shanghai/ Eating on a floating platform in middle of nowhere [YQasia Day 6 Oct 1]
Day 7 A very Chinese wedding [YQasia Day 7 Oct 2]

A very Chinese wedding [YQasia Day 7 Oct 2]

lilian wedding

Location: Feng Shu Ling, Chun’an District, Zhejiang Province, China

Today is the big day. Nicole and I came to China for the wedding of our friend, Lilian. Since Lilian’s house is deep in the forest of Qiandao Hu, we had to wake up early for Whitney to pick us up at 6:10am.

Whitney and her husband picked us up and drove on to the hotel where Lilian’s friend were staying to lead them to Lilian’s place too. The two cars then went to another place to follow the wedding car’s way to the Place Deep in the Forest.

The journey to Lilian’s place took about 2 hours. We passed by the beautiful lakeside of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) and the green mountain side as well as the dusty roads that were being fixed. The view while driving was better than what we saw on the tour of the Qiandao Hu two days ago.

Chinese bride makeup

Finally we reached Lilian’s place, located deep inside the mountains. There was a slope before her house. When we got there, the beginning of the slope was covered with red strips from firecrackers. Her family would release a lot more firecrackers and fireworks.

Lilian was still getting ready when we got there. Since the makeup person arrived with our group of cars, the bride was still not yet made up. While they did her dress and make up, we walked around the village.

The groom’s entourage arrived at about 10:30am. As with the customs in Malaysia and Singapore, the bride’s army of busybody ladies (I say this fondly since I was among one of them) had different levels for the groom to pass before he reaches the bride.

Here, the levels weren’t prepared as well since it felt more like free-styling. Still, it was great fun as everyone laughed at the different things the groom had to go through.

One of the more memorable level was the groom singing 10 different verses of songs that had the word “Love” in it.

Groom teasing at Chinese wedding

Multiple feasts at this wedding

I spent the last part of the games outside, waiting for the feast to start.

Since we’re talking about feasts, let me share how much we ate for this wedding:

At Lilian’s we had some nibbles and then a full lunch with a table full of food. Later at the groom’s place, there was also tea and a full dinner. That is a great amount of food for this celebration.

For nibbles and lunch at Lilian, I sat outside with Whiney and Lilian’s ex-colleagues. During nibble time, sunlight poured strongly, burning the tops of our head and everywhere that wasn’t covered by clothing.

We had a break after the small meal. When the lunch feast was served, the sun had moved slightly and we moved our table as well to somewhere shadier.

Lunch feast at a Chinese wedding

On the table was a bottle of 女儿红, a white liquor used during marriages. I tried a sip of the 42% alcohol drink. It was clear as water and had a sweet fermented taste. But as soon as it reached my mouth, I could feel it evaporate and leaving a tingling burning feeling.

Also at the table was a packet of cigarette. Whitney later explained that at weddings, people in China prepare packs of cigarettes. Those who smoked were also pushed single cigarettes as part of the celebration.

After lunch, the groom and bride had the usual tea ceremony where they kneel to elders and give the elders dainty cups of tea. I didn’t join in this part as there were too many people around.

Soon, the bride left for a quick photoshoot. When all the wedding cars left, the bride’s family let off meters of firecrackers and boxes of fireworks. One of the fireworks even fell onto the bamboo forest and caught fire. Luckily, they were prepared and put out the fire.

Photoshoot post-wedding

Post-wedding photo shoot in China

The wedding procession went to the newlywed’s old high school. It was in this high school where the couple met.

While the couple took photographs, Nicole and I ventured into the boy’s toilet since the girl’s toilet was locked.

It takes a lot to get used to the toilets in China. Since it was an older toilet, there were no doors for the toilets. Actually, there weren’t any toilets but there was a drain. The drain was divided into different chambers with walls up to the knee.

When you need to “do business”, you squat so people won’t see your bum. That way, everyone’s honor is kept in tact.

Anyway, back to the wedding business. At my request, the bride tossed her bouquet. Neither Nicole nor I managed to catch the flowers but many of the roses spilled out. I did pick up the roses and stuck them back onto their foam base. I wonder if that counts as catching the bouquet in Cupid’s books.

After the photoshoot (something different from the Chinese weddings overseas that I’ve been to), we were off to the groom’s place. It was another long drive before we reached there.

Wedding dinner

Chinese wedding dinner

At the groom’s place, the bride and groom drank sweet soup in their wedding bed. Lilian’s nephew, who was almost a year old and born in the year of the dragon, was required to roll around the bed so the newlyweds would have heathy babies. (Baby, in the case of China since they have the one-child policy.)

As the guests, we had a bit of tea and nibbles (again!) before we were sent off to dinner (feasting, again!)

During dinner feasts at weddings, there is an emcee. There was one here as well. The man had a strange shave, leaving a small plate-shaped on the top of his head. He had a strange goatee that reminded me of old teachers in ancient China.

At the beginning of the feast, our tables were heaped with food as well. In fact the lazy susan was filled to its brim with small bowls of yummies. Funnily, we weren’t given bowls but everyone tucked in, nonetheless, and had a grand time.

On stage, the emcee humored us all. He also asked the fathers of the newlyweds to give speeches. I admit I got a bit teary then.

Afterwards, the bride went to change and the emcee sang while throwing small soft toys at guests. (The guests loved that, not that they were attacked.)

The bride wore a traditional Chinese qipao out. The newlyweds went around to drink with each table.

The night ended. We had to wait for Lilian’s uncle to leave before everyone else could. It was the custom of their village.

Courtesy of Lilian, Nicole and I were each given a room to stay at the town of Feng Shu Ling. I wrote this while bingeing on anime.

Lilian the bride

To end this post, let’s toast to Lilian the bride (and her groom Feng Tao too) a Happily Ever After.

Follow my (2 weeks late) adventures in China:

Day 1 Misadventures at Hangzhou Airport [YQasia Day 1 Sep 26]
Day 2 Swindlers and bicycle misadventures at West Lake
Day 3 Bike returning at West Lake/ Staying with a cute baby [YQasia Day 3 Sep 28]
Day 4 To Thousand-Island Lake by bus [YQasia Day 4 Sep 28]
Day 5 Tour of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) [YQasia Day 5 Sep 30]
Day 6 Buying tix to Shanghai/ Eating on a floating platform in middle of nowhere [YQasia Day 6 Oct 1]

Buying tix to Shanghai/ Eating on a floating platform in middle of nowhere [YQasia Day 6 Oct 1]

qiandao hu

Location: Qiandao Hu

Park by the lake

Since Nicole and I did not sign up for any day tours, we were free to wake up whenever we want. “Whenever” turned out to be 8am since we still needed to buy our Oct 3 ticket to Shanghai from the long-distance bus terminal.

Either Wang Xing or her mother-in-law prepared breakfast so we saved on spending for one meal. Breakfast was porridge with two vegetable side dishes. Wang Xing’s mother-in-law helped us pick out cutlery and we only had a pair of chopsticks and our bowl as ammo.

How do you eat porridge with chopsticks? Drink it like soup. If you eat more daintily, you can pick up bits of flowing rice with your chopsticks. That works too.

After breakfast, we went to see if the bicycle rental shop was open. I joked that we could cycle all the way to the bus terminal but everyone vetoed the idea. Anyway, the bike shop wasn’t open yet so we took the public bus.

Bus 7 was already filled up when it reached our stop. Our luck of having seats on public bus ended today and we had to stand for the return trip as well.

At Qiandao Hu’s terminal, there wasn’t any automated vending machine for tickets so we spoke to the lady at the counter for our ticket to Shanghai. It costs 122 yuan each for the 7-hour trip.

We didn’t have any plans for the day after the tickets so we hung around the terminal. We found the tourist information counter and picked up a few maps. The maps encouraged visitors to cycle around the lake. But looking at the map, we realized that it was really a Herculean effort to do so.

We hung around until we were bored and decided to head back to town. The queue at the bus stop was terrible and we didn’t board the first bus that came. We tried to beat the system by hanging out at the drop off point for bus #2.

Unfortunately, the driver was fair and told us to board at the correct place. We sighed and obeyed. At least this bus wasn’t packed with people.

When we got back to town, I told Nicole that I saw a shop selling fresh soy bean milk and that it had Wi-Fi. We went to the place and got very strange drinks. My soy milk tasted like it was made from powder and Nicole’s blueberry cheese milk shake was made from powder and was warm.

We got online and surfed the very limited sites that we could: Foursquare, LinkedIn, Nicole’s Yahoo Mail. That’s about all that was free from the Great Firewall of China.

I had to reload some credit onto Whitney’s phone. She lent me her Xiaomi phone and it was running out of credit. I found out that her monthly phone bill is 150 yuan which is rather shocking. Later I found out that the phone company pumps back 60 yuan as part of her phone contract.

Playing chess with a statue

Lunchtime at Xiushui Renjia

As gluttons, we were ready for lunch at the stroke of noon. Since Nicole figured out that dinner was at some place far, we went to the fancy restaurant Wang Xing wanted to bring us to that day.

There was a short queue at Xiushui Renjia (秀水人家) [The People of the Beautiful Water, I think.] Everyone in the queue is required to leave their phone numbers. Unfortunately, I didn’t know my number and I told the restaurant employee so.

The employee gave me an incredulous look and said, “How could you not know your number?” *All conversations are translated to English.*

I explained that I borrowed the phone from my friend. In the end, I only left my name and the number of people dining (2 people).

Our turn arrived fast and we picked four dishes from the menu. Our table was by the window and looked out to the square. Since it was a public holiday, there was an event out on the square and loads of people were walking around.

Our meal was fabulous and we managed to finish every scrap. When I was in Peru, I met a Russian lady who proclaimed that China has the best food. I didn’t quite agree then since I thought Malaysian food was awesome as well. But now, I think I’m starting to believe that the best food is found in China.

After our meal, we were tired. Since we needed to head out for dinner at 5pm, Nicole suggested that we head back to Wang Xing’s house for a nap. I agreed and imagine dozing off on the hard spring mattress (which is more comfortable than soft beds).

I took my nap seriously and woke up before 4pm. Whitney said she would pick us up at 4:30pm so we got ready.

Dining on the water

Little Cola

Whitney, her husband and little Cola came to pick us up. They told us that we needed to wait for two other cars from Shanghai so we hung out at a little park beside the lake shore.

The park had exercise equipment for the old. Singapore also has these equipment and I enjoy the “Space Walking” machine and the “Lift Your Own Weight” machine very much.

At the park, there were a lot of kids. I think, generally, there are a lot of kids in China and the parents marry quite young (25-ish).

The boys were playing a rough game of shooting each other’s brains out with toy guns. One particular kid look rather haggard and was very violent with his toy gun.

Cola managed to pee with his pants on. Afterwards, his mom reminded him to tell her if he needs to pee. He then said in his cute voice, “Mommy, I need to pee.” *All conversations are translated to English.*

After Cola had his pants changed, the folks from Shanghai arrived and we all set off to the dinner place.

It turns out, our dinner was in the middle of a valley and we needed to drive on a long unlit, windy, unpaved, mountain road covered with dust. Just beside the road is loads of water so we could end up as fish food if the drivers were not careful.

Finally we reached the end of the road, we still needed to get onto small boats to head to the dining area which was on a floating platform.

The food came out very fast and in very large woks and plates. We had fish cooked in 4 different ways: spicy, milky fish soup, steamed and sashimi form. The steamed fish brought out the tenderness of Qiandao Hu’s fish and was very popular among us at the table. There were quite a lot of stir fried vegetables as well.

We also ate persimmons and mandarins plucked fresh from Whitney’s husband’s family orchard. I’ve never eaten persimmons as juicy. We were told to take off the persimmon’s crown and break it into half to gorge on the flesh.

After the food coma-inducing meal, we set sail back to shore. Whitney’s family brought us back to her sister’s. Nicole and I need to be ready at 6:10am tomorrow so we can be on time for the wedding procession to Lilian’s hometown.

Until tomorrow!

Read the other posts in the YQ in China series:

Day 1 Misadventures at Hangzhou Airport [YQasia Day 1 Sep 26]
Day 2 Swindlers and bicycle misadventures at West Lake
Day 3 Bike returning at West Lake/ Staying with a cute baby [YQasia Day 3 Sep 28]
Day 4 To Thousand-Island Lake by bus [YQasia Day 4 Sep 28]
Day 5 Tour of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) [YQasia Day 5 Sep 30]

Tour of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) [YQasia Day 5 Sep 30]

touring qiandao hu

Location: Qiandao Hu (千岛湖)

Travelling the Wharf
Travelling the Wharf

Nicole and I got up early today because we wanted to make it in time for the 8:30am tour of Qiandao Hu (千岛湖). The weather was slightly chilly as the sun hid behind hay clouds when we got out of Whitney’s house at 7:15am.

The bus to Qiandao Hu’s tourist harbor was quite empty when we got on. But at the next few stops, more and more people boarded and the bus was full in a short while. The bus took us up hills and down slopes. passing by the lake shore.

Entrance ticket to Qiandao Hu
Entrance ticket to Qiandao Hu

At the harbor, there are counters for independent travellers to buy packaged boat tour of the islands. Even though the lake is called Thousand-Island Lake, we’ll only be visiting 4 main islands (which are made up of about 1 to 4 islands each). Our tour cost 215 yuan (S$43) each, which is pretty expensive considering a very nice meal in a restaurant for 2 costs less than 90 yuan.

We had our breakfast picnic of bread while we waited for our tour to start. Most of the people passing by were in tour groups and they each wore a cap in the color of their group. So far, we spotted turquoise, purple and red.

Soon it was time to board our boat. Our vessel was a three-decked modern things. When we got on, the employees urged us to head to the third level “to be more comfortable”. When we got onto the third level, we realized that they charge an extra 50 yuan per person for the comfort, plus unlimited refill of tea.

We headed down to the lower deck where there was no extra charge. When one of the employees asked why we were leaving the third deck, I replied bitterly, “I don’t have money.”

The only space we could find with a chair was the table occupied by two couples and a family of three. We each minded our own business for most of the trip.

Our ship came with two tour guides. One of the guides said that tour guides are only dispatched to ships made up of indie travellers only when there are a certain number. I think it was only to make us feel better as they probably dispatch guides to every ship that goes out.

The tour guide explained that Thousand-Island Lake was formed when the government built a dam for electricity. The damming caused two ancient cities to be submerged underground but all was done in the name of progress. (And we’re dang proud of it!)

The lake does have a thousand or so islands during periods where the water level is high. And when the water level is low, there can be up to 3,000 islands in the lake.

To tell you the truth, now that I’m writing about the tour, I’ve kind of forgotten what was on the four different islands. I have a vague memory of walking a lot under the shade of trees and taking photos. Luckily, I have photos to jog my memory. Off we go to the first island.

Moonlight Island

Our first stop was 月光岛 [yueguang dao] which translates to Moonlight Island. I’m not sure why it was named this way but the island consists of about 4 islands and one of which is named Wedding Photo Taking Place (or something like that).

Moonlight Island included a lot of locks. What locks you say? Well, those locks you use on your luggage or door to keep out thieves. On the island, they sell locks which you can buy and lock onto all sorts of predetermined places.

Island of Locks
Island of Locks

After the locks, there was a fish feeding area. About a hundred fishes fight for the feed that visitors throw into their little square living area. The fishes fight so hard that many of them are carried onto the surface of the water for at least 10 seconds. I sometimes feared for the lives of those fishes.

The last part of the island includes a metal bridge called Zhuangyuan Qiao. “Zhuangyuan” is one of the levels in ancient China’s examination system. If you pass it, you have the chance of becoming a government official. Kids and their families are encouraged to pay a fee to cross the bridge so that the child will pass his or her examination with flying colors.

Bridge of success
Bridge of success

Nicole and I skipped the bridge and explored around the harbor. There was a tower with no stairs and a stage with no audience. It was a bit creepy.

Empty stage
Empty stage

We got back onto the boat and bought one fried fish for each of us. The fish was supposedly fresh water fish caught from Qiandao Hu itself. It tasted like a skinny fish deep fried in oil. I even accidentally ate the gills before realizing it.

Fishy fishy
Fishy fishy

Dragon Mountain Island

Memorial Hall
Memorial Hall

Next stop was 龙山岛 (long shan dao) which means Dragon Mountain Island. The island had a couple of pillars carved with dragons which was probably why it was named that way.

The island was famous for one of its officials back in ancient China. Hai Rui was born in year 14??, which explains how back in ancient China that was.

He was a very fair government official and didn’t waste his city’s money (unlike a lot of officials then). The people were so in love with him that they built him a temple-for-the-living and asked him to write a few words about it.

The island was small so our tour ended really fast. It was off to another island.

Happy Fishing Island

Our third stop was 渔悦岛 (yu yue dao). The name is a pun on Happy (yu yue). They changed the first word to another “yu” which means fishing. So I guess the name of the island is Happy Fishing Island.

On this island, there is a buffet place, a performance stage and plenty of watersports. We were given 1.5 hours on the island because of the various activities.

Since Nicole and I brought our own food, we skipped the 30 yuan and 50 yuan buffet and ate our bread. But we did get a 25 yuan ticket into the performance area where we were promised plenty of ladyboys from Thailand, some dancers from Africa, a master of Chinese calligraphy and beauties dancing with snakes.

The show was all levels of bad. The best part was one of the ladyboys singing in both a female and male voice, although I suspect the male voice part was lip-synced.

The snake charmer ladies wore sparkling gold costumes and held onto their limp snakes. Their dance could only be the result of total non-practice. Heck, even I could go on stage and wave one arm about.

The African dancers seemed like a caricature of their culture. They wore “native” clothes and wriggled about. I have a feeling the dancers all have degrees and were only doing this to travel.

Another performance by the so-called master of calligraphy was bad too. While the master wrote with ink, the screen played a short clip about him. However, in all of the photos of the master with famous people, it looked like his face was photoshopped on. Even the photos of him in Thailand and Vietnam looked like a bad mix of green-screen and Photoshop.

The master did two works which were auctioned off. While the writing was indeed very good, the starting budding price was a ridiculous 500 yuan. The video did promise that the works of this master could go up to thousand of yuan. During one of the shows, no one bought his writing but someone did during the second show.

The finale of the show was a performance by 5 ladyboys. After the show, they stood on the stage for people to come up and take photos (30 yuan charge) with them. No one did during the first show we saw and we didn’t stay back for the other show.

On Happy Fishing Island, there was also facilities for banana boats and motorcycle for water. There was also a souvenir area where the vendors scream for attention and business.

After this “fun-filled” island, I was ready to head back to the mainland. However, we still have one last island to go to.

Plum Peak Island

梅峰岛 (mei feng dao) means Plum Peak Island. This is the most famous island because visitors can capture a shot of many of the other islands. We did try to take some photos of the same angle but it was blocked by trees and the crowd.

Besides photo taking, the island included a tea house where people are introduced to three types of tea. Nicole and I bought a set of 3 cans of tea and was given a tea set. We have no idea if we were cheated of our money but the tea did taste quite nice.

We had to climb for 15 minutes before reaching the peak. As for going down, there is a choice of grass sledding. I didn’t want to walk any more so Nicole went ahead with the grass sledding too.

The grass sled was a ratty looking plastic seat and the grass were fake grass. I sat into the plastic seat, stuffed my bags between my knees and grabbed the handle. I screamed all the way down the slope. It was awesome.

After the quick ride down, we hung out a while before heading back to our ship. The ship took about 40 minutes to get back to the mainland.

Boat on Qiandao Hu
Boat on Qiandao Hu

Food and shopping for razors

Since we didn’t eat a proper lunch, we were very hungry even before the end of the tour. We got off our bus form the harbor and headed straight to the restaurant we visited yesterday. The boss still recognized us and got our order of half a chicken, vegetables and a soup.

We ate our meal with gusto and I even had a few sips of Qiandao Hu beer. I found the not-so-alcoholic drink pleasant since I’m wimpy when it comes to beers.

After the meal (70 yuan), we went to check out bus tickets for the 3rd when we would be heading to Shanghai. The shop owner didn’t really know how to switch the system’s calendar to October and we helped out a bit. We realized that tickets for Shanghai were not yet for sale and we checked the timing of the buses. We decided to head back tomorrow to buy our 7.45am ride.

Our next chore was to buy razor so we could have smooth legs for Lilian’s wedding on the 2nd. Razors sold for an expensive price at the skin care shop. (10 yuan each!) In the end, we got razors for men, still at an incredible price of 9.5 yuan (I could get it for about 3 yuan in Malaysia.

Nicole deduced that the low demand for razors caused the price to be high. Indeed, underarm shaving for women in China is not yet the epidemic as it is in the west and in Singapore.

We headed back to Wang Xing’s place where we got to meet her mother-in-law. After our long day, we were ready to retire for the night.

Follow my (2 weeks late) adventures in China:

Day 1 Misadventures at Hangzhou Airport [YQasia Day 1 Sep 26]
Day 2 Swindlers and bicycle misadventures at West Lake
Day 3 Bike returning at West Lake/ Staying with a cute baby [YQasia Day 3 Sep 28]
Day 4 To Thousand-Island Lake by bus [YQasia Day 4 Sep 28]
Day 5 Tour of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) [YQasia Day 5 Sep 30]
Day 6 Buying tix to Shanghai/ Eating on a floating platform in middle of nowhere [YQasia Day 6 Oct 1]
Day 7 A very Chinese wedding [YQasia Day 7 Oct 2]
Day 8 A very Chinese hotel/ 7-hour buses to Shanghai [YQasia Day 8 Oct 3]
Day 9 Exploring Shanghai: Buffet, the Bund and Nanjing East Rd [YQasia Day 9 Oct 4]
Day 10 A day of food and coffee in Shanghai [YQasia Day 10 Oct 5]

To Thousand-Island Lake by bus [YQasia Day 4 Sep 28]

bus to qiandao hu

Location: Hangzhou -> Qiandao Hu, China

Initially, we planned to stay overnight at Xitang before heading to Qiandao Hu. However, Whitney said that her family will be heading to Qiandao Hu on the 28th so she advised us to skip the overnight trip and instead go for a day trip.

I thought that a day trip would be too tiring so I didn’t relay this bit to Nicole. (Sorry if you’ve just found out today. Um… Surprise!) So today was the day we headed to Qiandao Hu which translates to the Lake with a Thousand Islands.

In the morning, Whitney’s husband drove us to the metro. He warned that the underground might be crowded as everyone is preparing to head back home for the 7-day long National Day holidays.

Nicole and I bought a bit of things to eat before taking the underground. The little convenience store was stocked with tidbits. We bought two Pocky stick biscuits, yogurt and plain water that had Lee Hom Wang’s face on it.

Yogurt drink in China
Yogurt drink in China and handsome face on water bottle

The metro wasn’t as crowded as I imagined it would be. In fact, Singapore’s Chinatown station probably has more people during the weekend than there was today at Wenzhe Lu Station. Our destination was the fifth stop and we reached without a hitch.

Queuing at the automatic ticket counter
Queuing at the automatic ticket counter

At Hangzhou’s long-distance bus station, we went to queue at the ticket selling machine. Unfortunately, our line’s machine was the one that broke down every time it had to spit out 1 yuan coins. We probably would have bought our tickets sooner than we did if we queued elsewhere.

When it was our turn at the machine, it broke down again. I went in search of a station employee. I found a security guard who banged on the screen behind the machine. One of the ladies answered the banging and helped turn the machine back into operation.

While we were queuing, a man standing behind Nicole went too close for comfort. He was wearing a cone straw hat and very traditional clothes. I guess his sense of personal space differed from ours. He did ask us to help him buy tickets in the end so I suspect he might not be too familiar with touchscreen devices.

Bus ticket to Qiandao Hu
Bus ticket to Qiandao Hu

Our bus to Qiandao Hu would leave at 13:50. It was 11:20 when we had our tickets. Instead of heading into the city and risk missing our bus, we stayed in the station. Luckily, we found seats and sat there for the next 1.5 hours.

Soon, it was 30 minutes before the bus was supposed to leave. As I’m a worrywart when travelling, I told Nicole that we had better get going. We had to pass a luggage scanner before taking the escalator down to the waiting area where hundreds of people were already waiting for their buses.

Crazy crowd preparing for the Chinese national day holidays
Crazy crowd preparing for the Chinese national day holidays

Our bus wasn’t as shabby as I imagined it would be. We had a lot of leg space, in fact, I can’t even reach the foot rest if I sit upright. During the 2+ hour journey, I napped a lot to catch up with sleep. The bus was showing a Hong Kong gangster movie and a game show. In the game show, contestants have to perform and stay on stage for 100 seconds without getting voted off by 58% of the audience.

One of the contestant was a former runner up in a Miss Bikini competition. She was gorgeous but couldn’t carry a tune. One of the men behind wondered out loud why such a person would want to put themselves on stage.

Another contestant brought a large basket of fruits. The man behind commented again about how he had seen this show and that the woman had a sad history since she was adopted. In the end, we all found out that this was another person and not the one he had seen previously.

When I was not sleeping or watching the TV, I looked out the window to find tall mountains dotted with green trees. These mountains were dainty compared to the giants I saw in Peru. I imagined being someone in the past and having to cross these mountains on horseback.

Soon we reached Qiandao Hu long distance bus terminal. A lot of people were looking for business and asked if we needed a lift. Since Whitney told us how to take the bus to her sister’s place, I told the enterprising youth that someone was going to pick us up. I guess it doesn’t matter if the person picking us up was the bus driver.

We ended up boarding at the wrong place but thankfully, it was the right choice. The bus was crammed with people as soon as it stopped at the proper boarding area. Nicole and I each had a seat and my seat gave me a good view of bus signs to see where to stop.

We alighted at what I hoped was the correct place. Nicole called up Whitney’s sister, Xing, and told her where we were. Xing came soon on a bicycle with her daughter riding between her and the bike handles. The little girl was chatty, as was her little cousin Coke.

Xing brought us back to her place which was a 3-storied apartment. Our room is on the upper floor and is connected to the balcony where we could hang our laundry.

After a while, Xing brought us out to give us a mini tour of Qiandao Hu’s city area. She also brought us to dinner where we ate food for 6 people. It included a large bowl with fish head straight from the lake.

Xing had to meet someone after dinner so Nicole and I strolled down the busy street. Shops were open and blasted recordings to lure people in. We had something to drink at a bakery before heading back.

Xing, her daughter and her husband were home when we got back. Nicole and I have to wake up at 6 to get ready tomorrow so we have to say good night now.

Follow my (2 weeks late) adventures in China:

Day 1 Misadventures at Hangzhou Airport [YQasia Day 1 Sep 26]
Day 2 Swindlers and bicycle misadventures at West Lake
Day 3 Bike returning at West Lake/ Staying with a cute baby [YQasia Day 3 Sep 28]
Day 4 To Thousand-Island Lake by bus [YQasia Day 4 Sep 28]
Day 5 Tour of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) [YQasia Day 5 Sep 30]
Day 6 Buying tix to Shanghai/ Eating on a floating platform in middle of nowhere [YQasia Day 6 Oct 1]
Day 7 A very Chinese wedding [YQasia Day 7 Oct 2]
Day 8 A very Chinese hotel/ 7-hour buses to Shanghai [YQasia Day 8 Oct 3]
Day 9 Exploring Shanghai: Buffet, the Bund and Nanjing East Rd [YQasia Day 9 Oct 4]
Day 10 A day of food and coffee in Shanghai [YQasia Day 10 Oct 5]