Hangzhou, cycling around the lake

A couple of hours in a “hard seat” in a train took me to Hangzhou. And the first thing I did when I got there was to get a ticket to get out, as my time in China is limited and I want to make sure I don’t get stuck in the first place I fall in. After that, I took the metro until a stop in a centric square where I would be meeting my host in this city.

At my arrival, tight on time, I realised there were many different exits for the same stop and I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to be at, so I got one randomly. After waiting for a while and ask a group of young locals with the hope they would speak a little of English, I gave up and came back to the underground to pick an exit that could make more sense. I passed the security scan again and for my surprise, I met Cheng inside the station. Brilliant! Then, we went to her house and left my stuff there and meet her two kittens. They were called Flower and Idiot in Chinese. I could see why the last one had earned that name. Anyways, I got a few things in the bag that I use as a purse and headed out to have something to eat. It was this kind of stuff that people here must consider a sweet and I consider an almost healthy thing because it consists on some jellies with beans or sweet potato, ice and maybe syrup. No cream, no chocolate… What I was saying, almost healthy.

After that, we took a bus to hang out with her best friend, who also had two cats. We had something to drink and then went out for dinner. Dinner was marvellous. Cheng had previously asked me if I liked pig legs/feet. Naturally, in Spain we eat everything from the pork. Everything. Like in China, she told me. So that was the star dish of the dinner. Between others, because we ordered a lot of food that nothing had to do with any Chinese food I had tried before. During dinner, we had the chance to talk about a lot of stuff. I found out that they speak Italian perfectly, that they had been travelling around several countries but not around Asia outside China, and in general, a lot of girl talk that I was missing a bit. We also got to discuss durian pizza. Of course, they asked me about the situation with Asian boys. It was so funny when they said: “we have heard things about Asian boys”. Well, so did I. What have they heard? That European girls don’t like Asian boys. That was funny as well and I showed them a picture of an Asian friend of mine that I think is hot as hell. I don’t think he was their type though. Then, they revealed me that they would never get serious with a European guy and that even though marriage was not important for them, they would never get married with a European. I thought it to be very interesting. They also told me they like shy boys and that might be why they like Asian boys so much and I don’t.

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Walking around the canal

The night continued with a walk around town, where they showed me the old ladies dancing in the square. They found it hilarious and it was, but I had seen this before in Hong Kong. Choreographies and even a group dancing something like a Chinese pasodoble were around and free of embarrassment. We also took a few selfies and I learnt why they use a hand right next to their face: to make their faces look thinner. I have to learn how to bloody pose; I am a disaster, but taking notes already! Afterwards, we sat down in front of the canal and enjoyed the views of the cargo ships passing by. I found awesome the fact that the canal was as long as to get to Beijing, very old and not natural. It is amazing what the human kind has ever been able to create. To go back to the house, we took a couple of bikes and pedalled back. There, Flower and Idiot were waiting for us. I had been advised of their unsettled nature, but their behaviour that night was too much to bear. It was cute at the beginning that they were coming and going and going on top of you and curling around you. But every now and then, the cats were waking up, messing around, stepping on your face, playing with your pillow, climbing to the mosquito net and I thought one even peed on a sheet. I had a pretty shitty night and I woke up late, when the god damned cats were having one of their naps to get a bit more of sleep that what I could gather during the night. Once I got up, Cheng offered to get a bike for me with her phone so I didn’t have to rent one or worry about getting a card or any other stuff. That meant that I could not leave the bike at any station or I wouldn’t be able to get it back because I didn’t have the app on my phone or data to make it work.

That’s how my day started: cranky because I didn’t get enough sleep, without breakfast, with a bike I couldn’t let go and the heat hitting my head strongly. After a while pedalling, I ordered some dumplings to take away. The plan was to find somewhere nice near the lake and eat them up. The plan was more difficult that what it initially seemed to me because it was hard to find an entrance to the lake where I was allowed with the bike. There were too many people because of some 3 days festival that had been going on. I ended up stopping somewhere in the shadow to eat because I was about to bite someone if not. During the stop, I got asked a few times if I was leaving the bike (I think that what was people were asking, not entirely sure). Without the hunger dominating my thoughts I could go on now and I decided to take a direction and pedal that way before giving up and leaving my bike. I was almost sure that I could go around the lake by bike and not just around the big road going around the lake, where nothing can be seen. Indeed, I was right and I started enjoying myself between people and heat. The lake was beautiful and the day, though hot, was amazing and I got to enjoy a bit of heat (38 degrees as a bit). A few hours it took me to go around and I finally decided to finish the day off having a look to the Confucius Temple. There was nobody there, surprisingly, and I decided to ask the guards of the door if they can hold my bike for me while I had a look indoors. Obviously, they didn’t understand, so I went to the information window at the very entrance and asked in English and someone there asked for me. The guards agreed and I happily entered the temple and had it for myself for a few minutes. I went in and around and found something bigger than expected, where I wished I had had time to sit down and enjoy the quiet and peaceful feeling around but I didn’t want to have the guards holding on my bike for too long.

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Going around the lake

Five hours after I left the house, I was back. Cheng was waiting for me and got the door for me and the first thing I did was to take a shower. Then, she got ready, gave me the keys of the house and left me with her two cats to do whatever I wanted. I wasn’t expecting that, but cool. That gave me time to organise stuff, more couchsurfing, pictures, updates… while her two cats were bothering me and messing around the whole time. They drove me a bit crazy and despite I had understood this cliché of why old ladies that stay single want to have cats, I also understood I don’t want cats. Ever. I went for dinner and thought of having a stroll but it started raining. I got some fruits for the next day and got pissed off when the guy tried to trick me. I don’t speak the language but that doesn’t mean I am stupid. I know how much should I be paying, more or less and I know that because I give you a small note you just not get to take it and fabricate a ticket with the exact amount of money I gave you. Not when you weighted the fruits. Anyways, I came back to the house and chilled for the rest of the night until Cheng came back home. She was all excited telling how she decided to chase a boy, a shy boy and how the next day she was going to ask him out. Then, we got ready to get some sleep. Her cats were one to each of my sides, quite relaxed and we were chatting when I noticed that the sheet that I was about to used was wet. So yes, one of her cats had peed on the sheet. She took the cats away and locked them out which made me quite happy and I got some solid sleep this time.

Next morning, Cheng left to work and I stayed a bit, with her cats and got my stuff ready. I was leaving and I really needed to leave because I couldn’t handle anymore the cat situation. The fact that I may be a crazy lady doesn’t necessarily mean I am a crazy cat lady, it is confirmed. I can’t stand that everything has cat smell, cat hair and that they walk on you or your computer or sit on the stuff you left strategically located just because they found it more irritating for you. So I took my bag to get a 6 hours train to Nanjing. I was quite excited about the journey, I love to get in a train for a very long time and see the time pass. I connect with myself while I disconnect from myself and everything pretty much. And I love to seat while the landscape passes in your window and you are left with yourself. It had been a while since the last time I did this and for some reason I don’t find the bus as good as the train.

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