Day 15

Day 15–    Hangzhou to Xi Tang   What a nice day.  We loaded up the buses at 9 after a great breakfast.  This hotel was very nice – had eggs for breakfast!  It’s the little things in life.   We started off at an Ancient Street for some shopping.  This was more the shopping I expected – street venders and permanent stores with a variety of goods – tea, herbs, toys, chop sticks etc.   We spent an hour wandering the street.  The buildings were very beautiful and there was something for everyone – even Dairy Queen.  The air quality was better too.  Then we headed to a tea plantation.  This was an interesting tour and we got some more tea etiquette.   It was Longjing tea- the national tea of China.  After running the gift shop gauntlet, we headed to a very nice setting for lunch.  There are lots of tourists in this area but most are Chinese.  We are glad to have our Rockies and Avalanche signs to identify our buses after so many drivers and tour guides.    We are now driving to Xi Tang, an ancient water town.  Hopefully our hotel will not be ancient.  We know it’s a small town of 500,000.  It’s a 2 hour drive thru rice patties – what I expected the countryside to look like.  There are actual houses in this area – mostly we’ve seen condo/apartments buildings on our trip.  We’re on a highway and for once there is little traffic.  The slower pace is a nice change.  After the frantic pace of Beijing we are certainly ready for a break.  We stay in Xi Tang tonight and head to Shanghai tomorrow.  I don’t think Shanghai will be slow.  The Expo is big news here and the crowds in Shanghai are huge.  Their slogan is Better City Better Life. 

We arrived in Xi Tang and checked in to a rather spartan hotel.  After a brief time to unload and unwind, we headed to the ancient city.  It’s a water town with canals, old buidings, interesting shops and restaurants.  The tour company gave us money for dinner and we explored on our own.  There were tea shops, arts and crafts, restaurants, tiny grocery stores etc.  There were lots of curved bridges connecting islands.  Small boats cruised around one section.   There were lots of Chinese tourists and us.  The group I was with a pork noodles outside.  They were very good.  We headed back to the buses and ran into a large group with Keynes that had ordered Won Tons.  They were great. 

Then I got to play the daily game of figuring out how to log on to broadband in this hotel.  This is a ritual every time we move.  Lap tops are not common and in non tourist hotels, they are a curiousity.  The drill this time was to connect everything and have a log in page come up.  I had already determined that the front desk staff doesn’t speak English and our local tour guide doesn’t have an understanding of the issue.  The log in page asked for room number and password.  I had one but not both.  So after rebooting and that not working- that sometimes works in other hotels -  I disconnect everything to carry my laptop down to the front desk.  Given the log in instructions were in both English and Mandarin, I thought this would work. 

Given energy is in high demand, all rooms have a slot by the door to place your room key.  As soon as it’s removed, the power goes off in the room.  So, down the elevator I go.  The desk clerk could see my problem as the log in screen was displayed, so he grabs my computer and we head back up to the room.  After reinserting the room key so the air conditioning would restart, the lights go on and he proceeds to type in a code – mind you – neither of us have spoken a word and he doesn’t write down the code.  I won’t be disconnecting tonight so I can avoid repeating this process.   I thank the clerk and off he goes.  After toilets, how to connect is the most common topic of conversation.  Given I’m able to post, it worked…

Posted in China Trip 2010.