Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 04 2014

Hangzhou 4

Despite people carrying on with various crying, singing and chatting until at least 3 a.m., we managed to get up at 5:30 to go out and photograph Zhouzhuang, mostly bridges and the like. I hopped over a barrier, climbed onto a vacant boat and held the Invincible Rabbit inches from the water to get a shot of a bridge populated by photographers who no doubt wondered if my insurance policy was about to expire. We then walked out of the tourist part into Real China, where we had a breakfast of noodles with a side of Serious Disapproval of the One Child Policy by one of the village’s older residents. He said when he was a kid the water was clear, drinkable and devoid of things like automobiles strewn around the bottom.

We tried to visit a nearby pagoda, only to learn that it was in fact an electrical tower in disguise, which I found pretty neat. We then watched a mute, disabled man feed ducks while, across the lagoon, another man fed pigs. The raucous noise was audible even at the “temple” which had a sign proclaiming the grand history of the building, which had been built in 1056, witnessed many historical events, and was promptly destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The current temple is not on the same spot as the original, and was built in 1995. We went inside anyway, to find fake monks lounging around in front of the god statues, playing with their mobile phones.

It began to rain as we made our way back to the hostel, where we took a nap before taking a path out of the village, through some wheat fields, to the bus station, where we caught a bus to Tongli.

Tongli was a wash, literally. We didn’t want to pay to get into a place in the rain because it was miserable, so we circled around and found an alley into the area, which was rather a mess due to all the tables and things being covered by hastily arranged tents. I asked a barber if I could take a photo of him, and he said he’d do it for money. “That’s all right, I won’t charge you anything!” I told him, smiling sincerely. I wouldn’t have, either. But he wasn’t happy at this. Oh, well.

Police were trying to mediate a housing dispute near the gate as we finally disabused ourselves of Tongli, taking a taxi to a bus station, where we hired a driver to take us to Xitang. We traveled through half of China on small roads, seemingly, trying to get here, and we were so glad to actually find the place we even bought tickets. Turns out we probably didn’t need to; people can just walk into most of these places provided they’re willing to walk a block around to the side.

Xitang is rather commercial. We were passed in a rather rude fashion by a fellow in a tricycle hauling dishes, only to find him up ahead with most of the dishes strewn on the ground when he tried to take a bridge too fast. We walked and looked at hostels until we found something cheap and by the canal, and then had some unremarkable dinner before heading out to walk around the place. There is one street here that I can only describe as Holy Shit It’s LOUD. Each bar had a band and dancers and each was trying to out flash and out blast all it’s neighbors. One even had an animatronic dinosaur flying over the bar, which I’m pretty sure was manned by some kind of alien.

We walked some more, but all this walking makes for some really sore feet. We’re going back to Hangzhou tomorrow, and that fine, as I’ve kind of had my fill of ancient Chinese watertowns for now.

posted by Poagao at 10:19 pm  

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