Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oct 30 2010 | Hangzhou: more of it!

tea time on West Lake in Hangzhou
I quite literally passed out while blogging last night, woke up to our alarm clock 8 hours later, and felt completely exhausted. I felt better Thursday morning with 1.5 hours sleep than I did Friday morning with 4.5 hours sleep... and better still than Saturday morning with 8 hours sleep. I guess the adrenaline is wearing off. To build on the dichotomy I described yesterday (wars started and ended in such a peaceful place), we experienced more such conflicts. When going to such a relaxing R & R spot, why wake up so early? There's so much to see and do that we left more exhausted than when we arrived. Another irony of modern life here is the advent of faster and faster methods of transport. It took us 3 hours to drive to Hangzhou (plus or minus a lunch break), but much less to return due to a brand new highway that just opened (including getting lost pretty badly due to this new highway not appearing on google maps and even the tollbooth operators having no idea how to navigate us. Then this evening I read about the new high-speed rail line that will get you from Shanghai to Hangzhou in 45 mins (it seems to be opening any minute - the article implied that it's ready but no date or price were mentioned - in fact we were passed by several of these trains yesterday). Why the rush to get to serenity? The 3-hour drive is the perfect amount of time to allow you to de-stress on the way to Hangzhou - and resuming worldly cares on the way back. But then again, I guess people said the same thing when the automobile and highway became the norm here - why would anybody want to get there in less than 12 hours or so?

take only pictures, leave only
footprints (and two huge spools of wire)
Today we explored more of the wonders of Hangzhou.

There are culinary wonders:
- A sweet bowl of slightly fermented (read: sake) warm rice pudding
- Fried egg and tomato - simple yet elegant
- "Japanese tofu" (egg whites) soup with beef, peppers, tomatoes, and lots of goodies
- Lots and lots of long jin tea with various crackers (some with icing and some with onion) mandarins, peanuts (seem to be sweet rather than salty - go great with the mandarins), tea biscuits.

And there are the natural wonders:

visiting the wetlands with our new friends David and Cici
Hangzhou has a wetlands park that is similar the the everglades. For centuries there was a fishing village centered on the islands of the wetlands, but recently the wetlands became a tourist spot, the old shacks became a destination to see while island hopping via swamp boat, and the villagers entered the service industry. It felt a bit like Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi, but I do give them credit for trying.

alcoholic rice pudding
My Chinese given name being settled, I picked up the search for a good family name. I was discussing this with our new friends and tour guides and they mentioned that my name transliterates as "ge lei nei si" which means attic thunder inside this. Although a fascinating option, I inquired if there is a Chinese word for border (Grenetz comes from the Russian word for border) that starts with a "G" sound, and apparently there is. My new Chinese name is Guan Da-way, which means Border Stop - King David. Fascinating!!

1 comment:

kg said...

In the last picture, are you calling Olga your little "rice pudding" and saying that she's become an alcoholic with all those teas -- didn't you say they were Long Island Ice Teas? Actually, she looks like she doesn't want to swallow the pudding. I think instead of having jet lag you have work lag. My advice is: Try to take it easy for a day and drink a lot of water.