Although the city itself was nothing spectacular, the real highlight was the West Lake and the surrounding parks.
To get there, it was only a two-hour high-speed train ride from Changzhou.
After a late arrival, we were more than ready for lunch.
We found a random spot down the street from our hotel, and we were so surprised by the delicious food (and great lighting)!
We began with these crispy little cakes, filled with scallions. They tasted a lot like the traditional scallion pancakes, but were a lot crisper.
On the side, there was a sweet sauce and a chili sauce.
So delicious, and it may have been my favorite dish of the meal.
Next, a rice paper roll-up filled with a variety of local wild grass. It was really refreshing and the flavor was anise-y and unique.
This was a candied lotus root dish. Lotus root is a classic Chinese dish, but I wasn’t a fan of this interpretation. It was way too sweet!!
Also, we had a plate filled with plenty of protein.
Tea eggs, dried beef strips, some kind of intestine (gag), tofu, and goose legs (blegh). It was an interesting platter, and the only things I ate from it were the eggs and tofu.
Finally, we had some delicious pork buns!
These were amazing, filled with a marinated meat that gave it a nice salty/sour taste, but the best part were the buns!
I could tell that the buns were freshly made, since they were so tender and just plain delicious. Like pillows of carbs :)
After lunch, we headed to the park along the West Lake.
The park extends around the bay, and includes a few islands.
To get to all the locations, we took a little ferry and were able to take in all of the amazing trees and view by the waterside.
Check out the slideshow to see pictures of the beauty.
And after all of that walking, we needed to refuel!
So we headed to this street that only housed restaurants. There were so many different places to eat, and they all boasted the best food.
Once we picked one, we quickly ordered and stuffed our faces with delicious local food.
This shop specialized in preparing food the way they would do it in their homes. Simple and rustic.
First up were some of the most delicious edamame I’ve ever had.
They were salty and garlicky, and the flavor seeped straight to the bean.
Also, there was more duck, this time brined with yellow wine.
Speaking of yellow wine, my uncle also ordered two bottles of it for the table.
He said that the local yellow wine, a Hangzhou specialty, is just the classic rice wine, but with added “medicine” that gives it the yellow color.
Well, I had one glass of it, and didn’t love its sharp flavor.
Wesley and my uncle, however, drank until both bottles were empty, and may have ended up a little drunk. Good times ;)
Next up was the freshest river fish I’d ever tasted.
This version is another Hangzhou classic, and it’s served with a sweet sauce.
The fish was so fresh and tender that it almost had a tofu texture. Amazing!
Above is a traditional pork belly dish, called “hong shao rou”. It’s flavored with sugar, soy sauce, star anise and cooked low and slow. I’m wasn’t really a fan, since it’s so fatty, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it!
After dinner, we headed to a street in Hangzhou that is known for its old-fashioned buildings and many many shops.
Most of the shops sold souvenir trinkets, and it was fun just people watching and seeing what each store offered.
One of the most popular things sold was a peanut and sesame candy unique to Hangzhou.
Also popular was green tea. There were so many tea shops along the street!
Here, an artist drew in crowds with his clay molding skills. He was trying to replicate the face of the person sitting across from him, and it was pretty accurate!
And then we got lured into going into this “spooky mansion”.
It may have scared a five-year-old, but the neon lights and coffins didn’t do much for us. Although that creepy little midget at the end was pretty strange!
Then we went into a hilarious gift shop with funny gag-gifts.
Like this People’s Liberation Army helmet…
…And these fake PRC passports!
I really liked these aged journals. They looked like something straight out of Harry Potter!
And check out these cool carved eggshells.
How amazing that someone can learn how to carve these delicate patterns into an eggshell!
And finally, we ended our time on the street with a visit to the food stands.
The weirdest thing I saw were these chickens that are wrapped in lotus leaves and then caked with mud!!
The chicken is cooked with the mud on, and then right before serving, you peel the mud off and eat.
Everyone was eating one, but we were a little too full for food. It looked really delicious, though.
Then there were some silkworms, which I don’t think I’ll ever eat.
And black sticky rice cakes.
It was a really fun day, for some even more than others ^ (Someone may have still been a little drunk….)
And that's a wrap on our great trip to Hangzhou.