A thread in the Champagne Cabana got me realising that I probably had never dragged this bit of
information over from the old place. Read and enjoy and please note that it was posted in June 2005.
Not that wanna be paradise, Suzhou. Before I go on, allow me to explain that this is meant to be a useful guide to Hangzhou, if you think that you might want to come here and work as an ESL teacher. The bits in italics are meant to be humourous, may not be factually correct, and will be denied under oath in a court of law. After all, I can always blame a hacker, can’t I?
Hangzhou is about 200km SW of Shanghai. It’s a city of about 6 million people, so it’s rather big, yet feels like “sleepy hollow” compared to Shanghai. Climate is described as sub-tropical, but then again it does get a bit of snow in winter. See http://www.worldweather.org/001/c00556.htm
for climate information and also a 3 day forecast.
Hangzhou is on the side of the famous West Lake. I’ve done the boat trip out on the lake once and that’s that. When you stack West Lake up against the Terracotta warriors or the Great Wall, it doesn’t quite cut the mustard, but still it’s a pleasant place to stroll around, if the crowds let you. West of the lake there is park lands and then hills. Loosing yourself in the bamboo forests there can be a good way to spend a sunny afternoon. Hangzhou has it’s fair share of pagodas and temples.
Hangzhou airport is about an hour away from down town by bus. By comparison Shanghai (Pudong) is only 2 hours away. Still when leaving I would go via Hangzhou. It has connections to just about anywhere you would want to go in China, including Hong Kong of course. There are a few international flights, but mainly to Korea or Japan.
Buses in Hangzhou are 1 yuan per trip or 2 yuan if it’s an airconditioned bus which will be designated by the letter K. There are also a few buses that go to all the tourist sites and these are designated with a Y. 10yuan will get you 4 km in a taxi, after that it’s 1yuan for each half a km. IMHO the bus routes seem a little roundabout and involve a change or two. To save time, but not money, I usually get a taxi. The taxi industry here seems about as clean as you can expect it to be.
There’s a fair bit of nightlife around the old town. The two main areas are Nanshan Lu, on the SE corner of the lake, and Shuguang Lu, north of the lake near Zhejiang University, Yuquan campus. There’s some Thai, Indian, French and Italian restaurants. Last year, on a thread sowewhere here, mention was made of Lou Wai Lou, a famous restaurant on the north shore of the lake. It is pretty good, and it does the local speciality, beggars chicken, very nicely. This is chicken wrapped in leaves and then clay and slowly baked. Like all meat done that way, it melts in your mouth, and is certainly worth investigating. The other local speciality is dongpo rou, which is a cube of pork cooked in its juices and then a sauce is liberally applied. Delicious but please consult your cardiac specialist before partaking.
I should mention C-Straits. This is a franchise of restaurants which are all over Hangzhou. They are also in some other cities, but Hangzhou seems to be the centre of their universe. They do a good mix of western and Chinese meals at a reasonable price. Okay, they’re more expensive than the holes in the wall, but they’re a damn site cheaper than the 4 and 5 star hotels, which is the other main place to go if you want a steak.
North of Nanshan Lu is Hubin Lu. This area has been revamped and gone deliberately upmarket. Armani are there for example, and if you feel the need to lash out and buy a new car, check out the Bentley showroom. Mention my name and see what sort of deal my good friend, Chen Gun Kai, can do for you.
Longjing in the hills to the west of town, is the place where they say the best tea comes from. Not being a tea connoisseur myself, I couldn’t say but it’s really nice place to go and escape the rat race for awhile.
Yan’an Lu is the main shopping drag. It’s got the usual upmarket department shops, but it is spread out over a fair few city blocks. It narrows in one part and surprisingly enough that’s where all the touts seem to gather. Carrefor is there but most waiguoren seem to frequent a chain of supermarkets called Trustmart, which has reasonable stuff at prices that aren’t too bad. I go to the Trustmart at the Yellow Dragon Sports Centre, near Shuguang Lu, but there are a few others around.
There are a few other speciality shopping places worth mentioning. Wen San Lu is where all the computers, DVDs, software, etc. can be purchased. Xi Jian Kang Lu, just off Feng Qi Lu, is probably the best place to go to get good deals on silk. At the south end of Yan’an Lu is Wu Shan Guang Chang and leading off from that is Hefeng Lu, which has a lively night market. It’s a good place for foreigners to go and bargain like crazy and come away feeling like they’ve got a real bargain. Sorry if that sounds a little cynical but this correspondent is not one who gets too excited at the thought of bargaining.
Intouch Zhejiang is a monthly magazine, in English, for expats in Zhejiang province. Look for it in the book shops and upmarket hotels. Intouch puts out a really good health care guidebook for foreigners in Hangzhou, showing which hospitals have English speaking doctors and what they specialize in and what to look for in a pharmacy for both western and traditional Chinese medicines. Check out Intouch Zhejiang’s website which is athttp://www.zjol.com.cn/gb/node2/node138665/node139012/index.html
More Hangzhou is a more recent publication and concentrates more on the pubs and clubs scene. Look for it in the above mentioned places. Its website, http://www.morehangzhou.com/
seems to be in a developmental state at the moment.http://www.hangzhouexpat.com/default.asp
is another site for expats in Hangzhou. Certainly worth a look, although the site can be a bit slow from time to time.
Hangzhou, like every city in China, is going to have its fair share of good and bad places to work, including schools where the admin seems switched on and aware, and soulless language mills where one really wonders what happens. I’ve been fortunate to work in the former. It can be a great city to live in, but one word of advice. If you find a good school consider how far it is from the city centre. Quite a few schools and universities are a long way out, and this means either a long commute every day, or living on campus and not having too many trips into the bright lights in the centre of town.
I bet there’s stuff I missed out. Please feel free to add your own thoughts and observations, and PM me if you have any questions.
« Last Edit: 7 Jun, 2005, 4:13pm by Newbs » Link to Post - Back to Top IP: Logged
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space, cos there's bugger all down here on Earth.