Where are we? Hangzhou.

by Poi on September 13, 2010

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We’re in Hangzhou. You may have read about our little error and why we are here instead of Xi’an. So this is our second stop, can we call ourselves backpackers now that we’ve been to more than one location? Maybe not just yet. I can add to our case by saying we have also ticked off two more things on the backpackers to do list, going on an overnight train and also sleeping in a dorm.

T train Bejing to Hangzhou china

Our train left Beijing South Railway Station an 9:15pm and arrived in Hangzhou station at 9am the next morning. We arrived at the train station in Beijing not really knowing what to expect of travelling on a sleeper train, our first impressions were that it was pretty posh but the rooms didn’t look that big – where the hell were our bags going to live for the night? Five minutes later we were kicking them under the beds of our new best friends for the night, a middle aged Chinese couple who didn’t speak a word of English. We immediately identified this as an opportunity to show off our language skills and reeled off everything we knew in their native tongue. Once we’d finished saying hello and thank you a few times we jumped into our bunks for the night, nice and comfy. We both spent a couple of hours reading before passing out for the night. That’s the problem with sleeper trains I guess, they don’t make for much of a story, although Kirsty did have a dream the Chinese couple stole her shoe’s so she woke up a bit suspicious of them both.

four person berth in a T Class train China

The two top bunks were ours.

sleeeper bunk from beijing to hangzhou

Kirsty getting ready for sleeps.

t class bunk in china

Me asleep – the bunks were easily big enough to stretch right out straight I just sleep funny.

Stepping off the train in Hangzhou it was clear we had been travelling south, the heat hit us straight away and wandering round with backpacks didn’t seem like much fun anymore. After our mistake before we know try and book the train tickets to move on as soon as we arrive in a location. This being China though they like to mix it up a bit. Instead of booking our ticket to Xiamen ten days before, like we were told to, we can now only do it 5 days in advance ‘come back tomorrow!’ Deciding that if we returned tomorrow and the train was sold out we would settle in Hangzhou and rather than try and book another train, we went on the search for our hostel.

The hostel was kind enough to provide directions to getting there by bus from the train station. They didn’t work…. Or perhaps we write them done wrong but this is our blog so for now we’ll blame them. We caught the bus we were looking, Y2,  for from round the corner of the rail station and listened happily to the girl at the front telling us wonderful information about various parts of the city as we drove past, all of which we didn’t understand a word of. We got off at our stop, caught the next bus in the wrong direction, realised this, got off and caught another bus back again and proceeded to go right past our stop in the other direction. Luckily at this point the bus does a little loop and goes back on itself for a bit and we would have missed our stop again if it wasn’t for a Dutch couple kindly helping us as they got on the bus and letting us keep their map. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to talk properly as once we had worked out where we it was time to get off.

the west lake hangzhou

Taking a break for a few seconds

Our hostel is situated about 100m back from the water’s edge, a perfect location. Finding it although was not as easy as that, once off the bus we proceeded to walk in the wrong direction away from the hostel. We knew it was by the lake so we walked through the trees to the water’s edge. Looking at the map we realised we were going the wrong way so we did an about turn and started in the other direction. Just like on the bus we still managed to go past the hostel yet again! By this time three hours had passed since we got off the train and we were getting a little bit fed up, mainly due to the heat. One last ditch attempt meant asking for directions from the nearest hostel. Kirsty went in and was confronted by quizzical looks “this is Hangzhou international youth hostel!” Turns out the hostel likes to use two names to confuse poor backpackers (sod it! I’m calling us that) like us a little more after a long journey.

ming youth hostel hangzhou china

Our new home!

We’ve got 6 nights at this hostel and chose to stay in a dorm room as it’s much cheaper. We had always said we would stay in dorm rooms now and again just for the experiences. Is it weird for a travelling couple to stay in a dorm room? I don’t know, you tell me. The first morning one of our roomies walked in to find me sitting on Kirsty’s bed with her , he started apologising and ran around grabbing his things and was gone in a flash. At the time I felt like chasing him down and saying “don’t worry mate I was only talking to her”. Of course we will be getting private rooms most of the time because, well let’s not get into that, this blog is about travelling.

pagoda and the west lake hangzhou

The West Lake – Hangzhou

So for now that’s it, we’re in Hangzhou, it was quite an experience trying to find the hostel and this place is gorgeous. After two weeks of being in Beijing we know we are going to enjoy this place a lot, if only for the views. What we get up to here to follow!

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Sofia September 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Those beds on the sleeper trains look so comfy! Although it doesn’t seem like there is much protecting you from falling off..?

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Poi September 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Thats the first thing I said to Kirsty when we got on! I’m going to fall off this!

They were pretty wide though so it wasn’t a problem and yes very comfy!

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ayngelina September 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Wow, that is not what I imagined trains in China looked like, very nice.
ayngelina´s last blog post ..Guinea pig also tastes like chicken

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Poi September 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm

We had the same thought, very relieved when we got on this train.

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Jaime D. September 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm

This was a funny post. I couldnt stop laughing when I read the part where the both of you were in the bed and the guy apologized. Thats too funny!!!

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Poi September 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Glad you enjoyed! We like to entertain!!

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Mary September 14, 2010 at 4:19 am

I was glad to see the overnight train looked pretty comfortable. I traveled by train from Shanghai to Suzhou and was surprised by the efficiency and comfort of it. I would have liked to visit Hangzhou as well, but no time…

Looks like a nice trip. Lucky that you have opportunity to explore more leisurely…

Do a gondola tour if you get the chance there. They will sing for you too
Mary´s last blog post ..Temple of the 10-000 Bug Bites

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Poi September 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

There are loads of places extra we want to explore in China now and although we plan on leaving in a couple of weeks we’re already thinking of when we can come back. Hope you get to Hangzhou at some point – it’s great!

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Erica September 14, 2010 at 4:39 am

I’m glad to hear you guys are alive and getting around China! I’ve been wondering what Shaun and I are going to do in the hostel situation. While I want to be as budget friendly as possible, I can imagine that alone time is also healthy for the relationship lol.
Erica´s last blog post ..Inspiration for YOUR Career Break – Meet- Plan- GO!

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Poi September 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm

We are alive!
Dorms are a must, we met some awesome people and had a real good time with them, it makes the private time even better as well….

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Sarah September 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm

People can get very worried about sharing a room with a couple! In my experience it’s the single travellers that are more likely to get up to something *cough* unneighborouly *cough* in the dorm rooms than the couples!

I’d always advice couples to spend some time in dorm rooms though so that you have the chance to meet other travellers. It’s so much harder if you stick to private rooms the whole time!
Sarah´s last blog post ..7-50- Being left behind – when friends go travelling

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Kirsty September 18, 2010 at 5:24 am

We loved it, got to meet so many more people than we would have done in a private room. I think we’ll prob end up doing 60 – 40!

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Andi September 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm

What a beautiful new home!!! Haha, you do sleep funny, love it.
Andi´s last blog post ..Brasil- Day 6

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Poi September 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I’d love to live in Hangzhou although I think I’m gonna be saying that about a lot of places this trip!

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