Day 1, Part 1 – Hangzhou

(This is gonna be another blog post without photos. I have taken a few hundreds of photos with my phone camera throughout the entire trip, but the selection itself can be a pain. Lol. I also discovered another website that hosts micro-blog. I haven’t made up my mind to migrate there or not)

I started my day by having nasi lemak as breakfast, totally forgot that I had pre-ordered and would be served nasi lemak again on my 5 hours flight. At the departure hall, all I saw was Chinese faces with the exception of a Malay guy sitting next to me who told me that he was going to China to bring back goods for business. I was dressed in my hipster pant (which I love so much because it is baggy and comfortable), sneakers with black socks and an oversized striped blouse. But I was so conscious of what I had changed into at the KL airport. My hipster pant wasn’t long enough for my legs that it exposed portion of my skin and socks. Now you get the picture. I sighed of relief once I got into the plane, knowing that for the next one week, I got to dress however I liked in China because no one knew me there so I didn’t have to dress for anyone. Once I got seated, I did what the Chinese did – removed my sneakers. At the end of my flight journey, the middle-aged Malaysian Chinese guy chatted me up. Turns out that we both work in the same industry and he knows my job etc. What a small world. Difference is he is now based in China, with the contractor on project basis. My mind started to drift to future job prospects in China and how I should leverage my current experience. Sensing my ambitions, he advised that as a girl, I should be contented with where I am now and not think of global mobilization much like the men. Okayyy 😦 Other than that, he gave me plenty tips on where to visit in China.

We said goodbye upon landing. I lied that my hostel would pick me up. It was better to be careful since I didn’t want any unwanted attention. Hangzhou airport was huge, clean, bright and rather empty. I had no problem buying the airport shuttle bus ticket. That was also when I realized I left behind my printed self-prepared detailed itinerary which contained EVERY SINGLE THING (i.e. how to walk from a transport hub to my hostel). Luckily I still remembered pieces of info here and there about my first stop, so I figured I would worry about the rest once I got to my hostel. To board the airport shuttle bus, I had to walk from international to domestic arrival hall and the girl at counter told me that the bus would depart in another five minutes. Not wanting to miss it, I actually ran and asked few passengers-by along the way to point me to the right direction and right bus. It was quite a distance. Nevertheless, I managed to grab one of the last few remaining seats. Two Indian girls joined me later and were seated next to me. Both were English-speaking so I asked if they were Malaysian (or Singaporean) Indians because they did sound like one, to which they answered they were Indians from India. But why weren’t they speaking in Tamil? Now, I was curious about them. But they were happy to just talk to each other, totally ignoring me – the one and only English-speaking person in the bus who would respond to their English enquiries. Indian girls I know could be very cliquey. Meh but their men are always fun to hang around with. Who knows these girls’ friends or brothers were somewhere around. Ahem ahem.

Rain started pouring down when I was in the bus. I had on my mind that Hangzhou was a picturesque small town. Little did I know it is a bustling industrial city. As we were moving away from the airport, I started to see more and more high rise buildings which seemed like apartments or condominiums. There were multi-storey houses either which were very European-like with the red stone walls etc. And the rest looked like factories or manufacturing plants (one of them is GE). In fact, Hangzhou would be hosting 2016 G20 summit in few months, so a lot of construction or renovation works could be seen along the way.

I got off at Chengzhan, the main bus station. It was still raining and I had no idea how to get to the main railway station. I knew I had to walk and it was nearby. Staying there waiting for the rain to eventually stop wasn’t an option so I took out my disposable rain coat and started asking for directions. Few pointed to me in the same direction so after some walking, I finally got to the main railway station. By then, I was looking really ridiculous with my rain coat as everyone else was carrying an umbrella. Once I figured out how the ticket was sold through the automated machines, I boarded line 1 to get off at the first station “Ding’an Road” where my hostel would be located. The security at railway station was surprisingly tight. Our bags needed to be screened, like at the airports.

Once I got off at “Ding’an Road”, I walked to the first Family Mart I saw and bought an umbrella. Despite not having the exact address number of my hostel, I remembered it being named exactly the same as the ancient street “He Fang”. I eventually managed to get there rather effortless by asking strangers relentlessly for directions. If I was in doubt, I verified.

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