Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hupao Spring to Anji

Our first full weekend in Hangzhou (Sept 9 to 11) gave us a chance to see some sights in and around the city. On Saturday, we braved a steady rain to visit Hupao Spring, a place where the water is supposedly so good the locals will hike up the hill and fill jugs full of the stuff to take home. We saw one old man walking up with about a dozen 2-liter bottles hanging from a pole he carried on his shoulders. We stopped in a tea house for a cup of the local specialty, Dragon Well green tea, and heard some live traditional Chinese music while we sipped. After the performance, our little blond celebrity (see: Andrew is a Superstar) enchanted one of the musicians who let Andrew hammer on the big iron bells. Andrew sang Twinkle twinkle little star for her and she accompanied him on a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, something akin to a cello, I suppose.

Sunday, with nice weather, we went on a short hike through some hills to Good Luck park and Yellow Dragon Cave. Good Luck park on Sunday morning is an absolutely mad house. Five or six people were practicing their swordsmanship, waving real swords around as throngs of people walked by and 3 or 4 bands were playing and singing traditional Chinese music. The nearby Yellow Dragon cave was mostly a dud, but we did catch part of performance of traditional Chinese opera. Can't say I'm a fan.

Next stop was Hangzhou's famous West Lake, where Andrew and I strolled along the manicured pathways and dealt with the usual Andrew-paparazzi. Amy, in the meantime, enjoyed a $5 one-hour massage. This is a great place - they train blind people to do massage, where hopefully they make a decent living. Next was my turn for a massage!

The BoldTech office here had a day-long outing on Monday, and Amy and Andrew joined me. We took a 2-hour bus ride (after a 1-hour taxi ride) to the village of Anji, in an area of bamboo-covered mountains. Quite beautiful, although the views were a bit obscured by the every-present fog and pouring rain. The big attraction here is movie sets. A couple of recent big-name Chinese movies were filmed here, and the sets are still in place. Andrew made friends with the kids of a few other BoldTech'ers on the trip - Yaya and Chen Ju Qi, a girl and boy about Andrew's age. Most people who speak English adopt western names, and Chen Ju Qi used "Charlie".

We also joined some other ex-pat friends of ours for dinner on 2 nights. Axel and Kip live in our apartment complex. Axel is a German who works for a company he calls a "haberdashery" and his wife Kip is originally from Malasia. Both speak great English, and Kip also speaks good Mandarin, which is handy.

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