Ok. I know my travel posts are rather intermittent, but I simply don’t have to time to blog them all at one go! I wrote this halfway awhile back and finally found the determination to finish it today. I’m beginning to lose memories of the trip already and dont even remind me about the south Africa trip that I stopped halfway and the Australia trip that I didn’t blog about at all. I think I’ll probably won’t get round to them anymore!

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Day 5 was spent heading to hangzhou and 西湖 (west lake)!! Scrap that. It was amazing race to hangzhou. We kept running and running the entire time, I was reminded of how bad my physique is.

We woke up bright and early and got ready to head out. Bought our train tickets without our passports, but the counter lady insisted that we needed our passports, which triggered an early morning jog. Does not help that the lady keyed the wrong details on my ticket and had to wait for it to be amended. While I wait, Bernice ran back to the apartment to grab our passports.

The plan was to take the subway/metro to the train station but because of all the delays, we decided to take a cab. It’s a very, very bad choice. the moment we hit the highways/expressway, we were caught in a jam that barely moved.

=(

Thankfully, we has a really really nice driver. He asked what time our train is and he squeezed in and out of the shoulder lanes to move ahead. My heart sank when I saw how bad the traffic was and knowing that the train station was nowhere near. We even talked about contingency plans of changing the ticket to the next train if we were to miss it.

Amidst the bad traffic and discussions about contingency, we arrived 5mins before train departure and ran to clear immigrations, security and all. It was madness. And we got on the train just in time before the train pulled out of the station.

Us, on the train! The journey took about an hour and we nattered through it all.

Random shots along the ride.

Arriving. The taxi queue is madness!! BUT, I am going to give you a big tip. When in Rome, do what the Romans do. So when in china, don’t bother queuing! Sounds very bad right? But there were so many people walking to the front that after 5 minutes, we got out and walked our way right to the front too… And promptly got into the cab within 10minutes. If I have stayed in the queue, it would have taken me at least an hr?? So many people were cutting the queue!

X.silly first shot at 西湖(west lake). Soaking in the vastness of it all..

Map on the ground.

The streets. I love how the twig-like looking trees contrast against the pale blue sky.

You think going on a trip alone, meeting a girlfriend overseas and traveling somewhere is exciting and adventurous? Not quite… We attempted to conquer the vast lake by rowing a boat. Yes, us, 2 girls and no one else. I swear I could see the old man managing the fleet of boat with a smirk on his face thinking we won’t be able to make it.

The fleet for rental.

Us, with the 断桥(‘broken bridge’, it not broken but the name is as such) at the back..

Well, we almost couldn’t make it! Bernice who haven’t rowed for ages forgot how to row. Besides, it was a huge steel boat and it took a lot of effort to get it going but all went well after a short crash course and some practicing.

Heh. I think this is the most fun and spontaneous thing I did (ok, other than going on the helicopter in south Africa).

Playing a fool in the middle of nowhere..

Its sure some good exercise!

We spent slightly over an hr rowing the boats, cam whoring, people observing, and simply just chilling and enjoying the moment.

Frankly, this has to be the hardest boat that I ever rowed before, and on the journey back, Bernice was getting a little tired with sore hands so I moved to the bow of the boat to get it moving. It was hilarious and Bernice was happily taking a video/pictures at the back. I think it was a hilarious sight for the rest of the audience at the lake as well. We got quite a bit of stares!

Back on shore. I took off all my clothes lest a tank top cos it was so freaking warm after all that rowing!

Isn’t it pretty? That’s the sun in the dusty sky.

Starbucks to quench my thirst.

Random shots of Bernice.

My reflection in her glasses.

Our shadows.

We adjourned to lunch as soon as we got to the restaurants. Our tummies were rambling and guess who we met?! Jay chou! On our drink cans.

Cold squid, braised bean curd skin, fried pumpkin and fried rice. Supposed to be a famous restaurant but I only found the pumpkin palatable. Fried rice was way too oily and mushy.

We went on to tour some park place (I can’t read the sign board) but this is where the famous monk – ji gong’s resting place is.

With the caves behind us.

If you can read the above..

Us exploring the caves, with droplets of water dripping on our heads and a thick musky smell in the air.

Loads of inscriptions and Buddha sculptures on the walls of the caves.

So many of them all around. But seriously, no offense to anyone or any religion.. After a while.. we got bored. They all looked similar and the weather was getting warmer and all that climbing and walking is wearing us out. Besides we were racing for time to cover a lot more grounds!

We left and made our way to 雷锋塔.. It was hard getting around from pt A to B, the cab drivers all wanted to charge premium pricing and I find the whole place a serious tourist trap! We did managed to find and hop onto non tourist trap cabs but they were seriously hard to find and we walked a great deal because of that! To save time and avoid the neck-to-neck jam as evidenced in the above picture, our driver dropped us off at another place and told us to walk 10 minutes to the tower.. Else we could easily be stuck for an hour or more.

With the beautiful sun setting in my face, I didn’t mind the walking a bit.

Finally at the tower! Our entrance tickets.

Escalator up the tower!

And the gorgeous view up there. They say the sunset timing is the most beautiful time to check out the view up there.

You can also get a panoramic view of the entire lake from the top of the tower. I took some shots but am too lazy to stitch them together since I’m blogging from my phone.

We had a train to catch to head back to shanghai, so we promptly left right after we witness the tower lit up. Unfortunately, the sky wasn’t dark enough yet so I couldn’t really enjoy its full lit glory at night.

This was when the other part of the amazing race started. We left to look for a cab but the jam on the main road was much worse by then. There were no cabs and we waited almost 45mins. The 黑车 were available but they were 5-6 times the meter pricing and I was adamant about not giving in to them so we walked away from the tower.. Unfortunately, we walked in the wrong direction and we were going further away from the train station. It did not help that there were thousands of people waiting for a cab so it because a cab snatching situation. After a long while, we each waited at each side of the road and when I finally got a cab.. I screamed across the road for bernice but couldnt see her cos the cars and human traffic was madness. I freaked out and just kept screaming her name.. at the same people were trying to get into the cab whose door I was holding onto, so I wedged myself between the car and the car door with a leg inside while waiting for Bernice to appear.

It was madness. When I saw Bernice approaching, I never felt as relieved and exhilarating at the same time when we both got into the car and it started moving, knowing we can get to the train station.

What we didn’t know was.. We had 30 mins to our train ride and thought we’ll make it. Even though it was supposed to be 10 mins ride away, the traffic was not moving!! Plus we were in the wrong direction! GAH!

We considered alternative plans about booking a hotel room and staying another day since it was the last train out to shanghai. The best part was, we had a super nice driver (thank god for all the nice drivers we met on this trip) who went onto the pedestrian pavement (!!) and help us cut off some traffic. He eventually drop us off at a place where it’s 5mins walk to the station because he couldn’t get there in wheels and told us to run. We only had about 8mins to the train ride so we ran like mad after paying the fare and giving the driver a fat tip. Mind you, we were also running like headless chickens because we didn’t really know where the station is. My eyes kept squinting around for signs and I couldn’t see any except for “left baggage”. Turns out, we were on the wrong level, the escalator was spoilt and we had to take the stairs up.

I don’t remember running that hard and panting so bad in a long long time. Thing is, I’m the faster runner but I sucks at reading the Chinese signs so I have no idea where to go. Bernice was the opposite so we made a good pair I guess.

Clearing immigrations was tearing everything off us and throwing them on the conveyor belt and running through the scanner. We managed to breeze it and found the gate which was almost closing and had some station control holding some guys back who didn’t had the correct tickets. We got past the commotion and I ran down a long flight of stairs to find the train still on the platform. Thank god.

Bernice almost slip and fell while getting down the steps so I waited for her and told her to slow it since we are almost there. We eventually got on the train, and seconds later.. The train pulled out of the station.

I know, it feels like we just didn’t learn our lesson from the morning right? We did, and we buffered more than 1hr to head to the train station knowing that we are just 10 mins but we didn’t know the cab situation was that bad, plus the jam was horrendous. We were so so glad that we got onto the train home.

We napped throughout the journey, tired out from the long exciting day and I took a picture of the train only when we alighted in shanghai. Heh.

上海新天地 – where we had our dinner. Dinner was the familiar ding tai dung, but guess what? It’s marvelous compared to what we have here in Singapore and its rumored that they have the best Xiao long bao in shanghai! I’m not sure about because i find their local pork taste is rather strong but everything else tasted super yummy.

The interior of the restaurant. The guy from across our table kept staring! He was still staring when I took the above picture and eventually till he finished up and left. Weird guy!

葱油面. I can never forget the taste till today. It’s soooooooo yummy! Unfortunately, it’s not in our Singapore menu!

So we had the sour and spicy soup, spinach in garlic, 3 trays of Xiao long bao (chicken, pork and foie gras), a bowl of noodles each, and a sesame bun for dessert which we almost couldn’t swallow because we were so full.

Getting back to the hotel and receiving all these parcels (of our online shopping) marks the end of day 5. It was a mad, mad day but definitely, a memorable and unforgettable one.

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