City Tour Extreme: Day Three, Hangzhou and Wuzhen

I warned you in the last post that the torturous city tour did not end at day two with the trips to Yangzhou and Suzhou.  Day three is the day when it really got out of hand with an insane plan for the day. It meant once again hours in a bus too small for humans, a howling monkey tour guide doing her best to keep us awake, tourist trap stops and spending too less time in the cities. Please not that this post is a bit longer as it was a very long day.

So I ended last post with the remark that we went to our hotel and were able to enjoy some eatable dinner. The hotel, as mentioned last time, was surprisingly good. In fact it was nearly a five-star hotel, everything was clean, no tobacco smell anywhere, a bathroom bigger than the first hotels main room and a nice view from our room at the 17th floor. My father and I were already looking forward to the breakfast as the previous days that part was never something good. Oh boy, we should never ever have hopes in China it seems. You see, first of all we went to breakfast at 6:30 which meant it was nearly one hour before normal breakfast time for this hotel. At first glance it even looked good until we realized that under nearly all the food covers at the buffet only emptiness was awaiting us. So what food was ready this time? Indeed, mantou and some more mantou BUT there I found coffee and even milk. Big mistake again. The coffee was undrinkable as it appeared that they used 1/5 with actual super strong coffee, 1/5 with milk (or something similar to it) and last but not least 3/5 of sugar. After one sip my stomach was in turmoil so I grabbed the milk and big surprise it was hot milk with a weird aftertaste. The time between this experience and the bus leaving for Hangzhou I spent in the bathroom…

A huge Buddha covered with pearls

Hangzhou was our next city on the agenda roughly 2 1/2 hours by bus. However after 30 minutes we stopped at a Pearl Museum. It sounded very nice and started off so well. There was this museum guide explaining the history of the freshwater pearls in China and how one scholar figured out how to cultivate them successfully back in the day. There were wonderful pearls on display, a dress full of pearls worn by Cixi 慈禧 and even a Buddha statue covered in pearls. As you might guess it was just the beginning which was nice at this museum because as we were walking to the next room we were suddenly in the biggest pearl selling place I have ever seen. First there were several rooms filled with hundred if not thousands of tourist at the different pearl selling stands. It was so loud and crowded, just so unbelievable how the whole scenery changed from a nice museum tour into this tourist trap within seconds. After we managed somehow to get out of those pearl selling rooms we were out of nowhere surrounded by vinegar selling stands then in the next room it was all about clothes and and and. We went from room to room, from floor to floor for about half hour until we finally got out. I am not kidding that they basically had everything to sell there what you might find in a huge mall, from jewelery over toys and clothes to food.

Main square at Song Cheng

After this wonderful tourist trap stop we went on with our journey to Hangzhou. I don’t think I need to mention again how comfortable this trip was. The first destination in Hangzhou was Song Cheng, a large theme park with the architectural style based on the painting “Along the River during the Qingming Festival” by Zhang Zeduan. Once again it was just huge there and despite the terrible weather (yes, it was still raining) it was packed with people. My wife loved this place as she had watched before an episode of “Hurry Up, Brother or Running Man” 奔跑吧兄弟 which was shot in that theme park. I must say it was really nice there but of course we had just too little time there. The nice howling monkey reminded us once again that we had 60 minutes on our own there until the show “Romance of the Song Dynasty” would start. This gave us only time to visit few things there such as one of the great haunted houses (my wife is still scared) and a couple of amusement rides for Nathan. The show itself was incredible and what was even more incredible was that it was just huge there, the biggest theatre hall I have ever seen. All in all this was once again a place you could easily spend an entire day to see it all.

West Lake with the Leifeng Pagoda in the background

Again it was time for a bus trip for a half hour to reach the West Lake. There a little “ship cruise” was planned and while waiting for the ship/ tiny boat we could enjoy the beautiful scenery there. We could see the Leifeng Pagoda and the Jingci Temple on the opposite side of the lake. The ship cruise itself wasn’t that interesting except that we saw one ridiculous ship which looked like a giant dragon. As our howling monkey got lost in the park trying to find the way back to the bus we passed by many interesting spots within this park but sadly it was raining the entire time and thus I could not take any pictures.

View from one of the bridges in Wuzhen

Now then to my favorite part of this day. From Hangzhou we drove roughly 1 1/2 hours to Wuzhen, a wonderful little town. As the schedule was completely messed up we arrived there around 7pm instead of half day earlier. At first I was afraid it would be another tourist trap as I saw pretty much millions of busses in front but as soon as we went to the check-in area it was empty. All visitors have to leave the old village center till 6 or 7pm and only the inhabitants, inn-guests and workers can stay. We had some delicious dinner there (the best food for the entire trip!) and then had to find our own inn rooms in the old village center. The view was just incredible as during night-time all the houses and bridges are covered in lights. After getting our luggage to our guest rooms we went for a little tour around to take some pictures till most of the lights were turned off. I can only recommend visiting Wuzhen or even stay in one of the guest houses within the water town as it is definitely a place I would love to stay for a couple of days.

With this a very long day came to and end. It was certainly chaotic and only towards our last destination we could finally relax and enjoy the surrounding for a bit. After this night in Wuzhen only two days remained however they will be in one blog post as it is all about Shanghai (and some annoying side stops…).

Have you ever visited Wuzhen?

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31 thoughts on “City Tour Extreme: Day Three, Hangzhou and Wuzhen”

  1. A pearl Buddha! That sounds fascinating, but I like the last picture, of the houses at night on the water the best.

    Was your MIL also ill? I did not see her in this post…

    1. Wuzhen was really a great experiences but also way too little time was spent there.
      MIL wasn’t I’ll I think her demon blood protects her from those things. She was just her usually crazy self but in fact I did forget something! Darn I will have to edit it in and put up a note about that inthe next blog post.

  2. Wuzhen looks like a charming little town. But I suppose for you, it was the timing. No pushing and shoving and it sounded like a breather from the rush that was earlier in the day. But it looked like there was a lot of water there? Or was it just a river beside the houses?

    Fake corn? The corn looks pretty much real to me. Then again, it’s China…

    As you said to Autumn, I cannot wait to hear about MIL in the next post!

    1. Wuzhen is surrounded by rivers and canals. So there are also little boats passing by and you can take a ride for a few kuai. It is just lovely there but also very expensive. A milktea was nearly 10 AUD!
      I think even during daytime it wouldnt have been too full/ we could escape to our guest houses at the river side.
      I had so much to write about that day that I totally forgot about my mother-in-law. All the time I was thinking that I forgot something but didn’t realize it till Autumn’s comment 🙂

      1. That is some expensive milktea. I don’t know if I will buy it. I’m guessing like your coffee, it will taste very, very sweet like how your coffee tasted. Thankfully you did not get sick the whole day from the drink.

        You know, I’m sure you could write a book about all of MIL stories and it will be one massive hit 😀

      2. The milk tea is not even bad and at wuzhen they even had real coffee for breakfast. Really wonder why they make this weird coffee in the rest of China…
        Really wondering how many pages I could fill/ word count with only stories about her 🙂

      3. Milk tea is certainly a sugar bomb, never liked it myself but my wife loves it.
        Let’s see when I will ever get around writing a book about my mother in law :p

  3. Reading these tour posts makes me want to cry hahaha. What is the point of going to a place if you can only stay there for 2 hours?

    I have never been to Wuzhen, I am kind of scared of the crowds there. But if I ever go I will spend the night there as you recommended.

    1. I really don’t know what is the sense of going anywhere for such short time. I mean we spend same time at the west lake as we spent at the pearl museum! Just insane.
      I really wonder how the crowds at wuzhen would be during normal daytime. We arrived in the evening and left in the morning so I have no clue

      1. I’ve heard is very crowded, but most people and tour groups only stay during the day. You were lucky in this sense at least!

  4. I can’t believe you return to China for your holiday and are taken to some pearl markets and don’t get to stay in places longer than a few hours especially the theme park you wife loved. Damn Chinese tour groups!!!!

    Wuzhen Water Town looks lovely – I haven’t been there but have been to two others, all incredibly beautiful. I am glad you enjoyed your overnight stay in Wuzhen though and you enjoyed your meal; I recall your first China visit post you had some crappy meals…

    1. This tourist group was a big disappointment, I will never do something like that again. Next holiday I will definitely plan everything on my own.
      The food was really good in wuzhen. Sadly during daytime we had each time the terrible tourist group restaurant food, each time the same food just getting worse…

  5. Your howling monkey tour guide sounds like a real treat haha, but at least you ended the day well in Wuzhen. Looks very atmospheric and so nice that all the day-trippers had to leave by evening…

    1. The tour guide was something special, I will never forget her :p
      Wuzhen is a really wonderful town and we have plans to return there next time we are in China for one or two nights plus visiting another city in that area (either Nanjing or Suzhou) for another two nights 🙂

      1. Have you been to Lijiang in Yunnan Province? The pics sorta reminded me of there. We loved it there, but it was very, very quiet when we visited in 2008…I think it’s become super touristy now. I’ve seen some nightmare photos on other travel blogs.

  6. You have visited some lovely places. Nice photos.

    Did your MIL not complain to the hotel ‘s manager about the quality of the breakfast?

    When one visits a tourist spot, sometimes, one has to grin and bear it and either put up with the crowd or dig deep into our wallet. In Turkey, there are places where tourists have to pay Silly money in EUR. I was lucky I didn’t have these problems in Istanbul. On my recent trip to Pamukkale, I paid a steep price of 32TL or GBP 8 to swim in an antique geothermal pool with real Roman pillars in it. There were very few swimmers and very few Turks. The Turks I spoke to, had visited the place but were not prepared to pay the steep entrance for the pool. Here’s a link to the antique pool.

  7. The pictures are wonderful, especially those of Wuzhen at night.

    I’ve never been to Wuzhen, but we did visit Hangzhou in 1986. One of the memories that has stayed with me is of the beauty of West Lake and of the stories the man who took us out in the little boat told us about former emperors who spent time at the lake and wrote poems about it. Another memory: In those days, everyone rode bikes. They rode past, 10 or 15 deep in each direction without stopping. It was frightening to try to cross the street.

    Visiting China in the eighties, everything was more primitive, but the food was excellent. Usually for breakfast we had congee. In a hotel restaurant in Guangzhou, unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me have the Chinese breakfast. They made me eat their version of a Western breakfast.

    How did Nathan-cutie do on your whirlwind tour?

    1. Nathan was kind of stressed all the time. Especially being outside in the cold and then the warm humid bus was not that great for him.
      These days you barely see any bicycles there, now it is more like 10 deep cars in each direction and it is frightening to cross the streets.
      I am no big fan of the breakfast provided in the hotels. In Xi’an I often buy just some stuff from the street kitchens in the mornings and it is delicous.

      1. In our first trip to China, the hotel we stayed in didn’t have a restaurant. But there was a nice little cafe next door.

  8. Sounds like you’ve had some really action-packed days over there. I always have high hopes when it comes to hotel breakfast buffets, so I can imagine how disappointed you and your dad was about the empty trays and the strange coffee. Wuzhen really looks beautiful.

  9. Wish we’d have visited Wuzhen as well, will have to wait until our return to China, as we’re already leaving end of next week 😦 Wuzhen looks really special, more unique than other Chinese cities!

    1. Wuzhen is very special indeed. All the houses are maintained to look in the old fashioned way, everything is kept clean and tourists are not allowed to stay after 6 pm or so, except the ones paying absurdly high price for spending a night in one of the few inns

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