After making tentative plans to go many times before, I finally went to Hangzhou with Lucy and Isabelle.
Friday we met up at the train station. We compared what we had packed. Each of them had a backpack. I had my small suitcase. Darn it. Oh well. I was prepared. When we first got in the train there was a weird moment when we realized that my seat was in another car. We were able to switch to a three seater easily enough. We spent the hour long train ride snacking on chips, crackers, M&Ms and moon cakes.
We caught a taxi when we arrived in Hangzhou and went to the hostel. We were in a six person dorm room. We locked up our stuff in our lockers, freshened up and immediately headed out. We found this bar that had these like...cool attic areas. We climbed the twisty stairs and sat in a corner under the low ceiling. We ordered lamb kabobs that were SO DELICIOUS, pistachios, dried squid, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cucumber...pretty standard Chinese bar snacks. We also got a weird deal where we order like...14 beers but only paid for 6. It was weird. And tasty. We played Isabelle's dice game that we played in Windows. We walked around for awhile after that but eventually just went back to the hostel. We had some fruit and ice cream and nibbled in the common room before going to bed.
We all took quick showers Saturday morning and had breakfast at the hostel. The weather was beautiful. We walked and we walked and we walked and we walked. We walked around the gorgeous West Lake. We took tons of pictures. We acted like silly tourists. It was great. We stopped for lunch on this little street that Lucy suggested and has some Hangzhou food. We got sour fish, a pork and mushroom dish, cabbage, and some sort of bamboo root? I think? It was all very good. We stuffed ourselves. We then bought a pineapple from a little shop and walked down the street eating pieces off of toothpicks.
After lunch we went for an hour long boat ride with two other tourists who happened to be from Shanghai. It was lovely and relaxing. I think Isabelle actually fell asleep for a little while. It was nice to sit in the sunshine and hear the water. There were little tiny ducks on the water that kept diving for food and then flying off.
After the boat ride we realized how late it was getting and that we really had to get over to Lucy's grandmother's apartment to make our dinner plans. We ended up sitting in horrible traffic for about 40 minutes. It sucked. We stopped to get some fruit (strawberries, pineapples, cherries, etc) as gifts for Lucy's grandmother. Because we had to rush from the boat ride to dinner, my presents for Lucy's parents were still at the hostel, so Lucy had to give them their gifts the next day. (She said they liked them).
I always like the share when my students use English in odd ways so I feel like I should share my "almost incident". I was practicing how to refer to Lucy's family before we went inside. I should address her mother has "ayi" (aunt) her father as "shushu" (uncle) and her grandmother as "waipo" (grandmother). As I was double checking on all this, I accidentally said "laopo" instead of "waipo", which means wife. I very nearly called Lucy's grandmother my wife. Ack!
We went in, took off our shoes, gave the fruit and were immediately escorted into the living room for some porridge. Yum. When Lucy told her father that I liked fried dumplings, he grabbed a plate of the boiled dumplings, went to the kitchen and fried them for me. :-)
Lucy's family were all very very nice. I liked her dad a lot. The experience was a little humbling though. I was surprised I had SO MUCH trouble with my Chinese. I would say something in Chinese and Lucy would actually have to translate my bad Chinese. UGH. It was awful. And of course if I make a mistake I lose my confidence. I could hear myself getting quieter and quieter. I felt very embarassed. It was also hard to see Lucy with her parents when I really wish I was with my parents right now.
After being stuffed AGAIN (I felt so bad because I was still so full from lunch and they had made so much delicious food) we packed up and walked to her parent's apartment. We actually walked along the Grand Canal for most of the walk, which was pretty cool. I don't know if I had seen the Grand Canal before that. There was construction being done on her parent's home (which is why we didn't have dinner there) but we went to see some of the pictures and letters I had sent Lucy. It was pretty strange to see them. She had a picture of me in my bedroom from when I was 13 years old, holding up some music boxes. There was also a picture of me and Savannah with our Christmas tree one year. We looked at my old letters and relived some memories. It was cool.
After that we decided to treat ourselves to some food massages. We went to place that Lucy likes and got hour long foot massages. First our feet got soaked in hot water. Then scrubbed. Then massaged. They also scrape off your dead skin. Some oil. More hot water and scrubbing. By the time they were done the three of us were just sitting in the massage palor feeling our feet and laughing. My skin felt like newborn baby skin. So soft! After that we went to an Irish pub. I got a Bailey's latte that was pretty tasty. Around 11pm the rain that we heard was going to ruin our Saturday finally arrived. After hanging out at the pub for a while we went back to the hostel and went to bed.
Sunday we got up and showered again. We had lunch/brunch in the hostel and then left our luggage at the front desk and went to a shopping street. I picked up a few different kinds of candy to bring back and share with my coworkers. I also got a bunch of little touristy presents. And a very pretty hairclip. One fun thing on this street were a few different guys making interesting candy. With one you spun a wheel and whichever animal on the wheel you landed on, that was the shape they would make for you. It was a warm liquid sugar that they drizzled out in a shape and then attached a stick. Another guy was using a kind of candy/taffy/clay. We watched him make what looked like a gourd. It was more like glass blowing then candy making. We mostly walked up and down the street, stopping in shops and looking at things. I also picked up some lotus root starch that June wanted me to get for her. Apparently it's a Hangzhou specialty?
We got some coffee on the way back to the hostel, then we all got our luggage and parted ways. Lucy went back to her parents and Isabelle and I went to the train station and back to Shanghai.
All in all it was a very fun weekend. I really like hanging out with Lucy and Isabelle. We were joking around and calling ourselves Charlie's Angels.
I have an album of my pictures up on facebook. I will post a few here with a link to the rest later. Right now I really should be correcting tests.