Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 05 2014

Hangzhou 5

Xitang, it turned out, is a completely different place in the early morning. I hadn’t slept well as the bed was too small, but when we emerged onto the ancient streets that were once tread by such famous historical figures as Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III, we found a quiet, pleasant place. I took some shots of bridges and still water and the like as people began to emerge, mostly people with cameras. Students were on their way to class down one alley, and as it was the first day after the holiday, repairs and construction work was starting up. We had a nice breakfast of egg cakes, dumplings and doujiang at the shop of a fellow who became famous for hawking his breakfast wares on his shoulders through the town every morning. Outside, hawkers from other breakfast shops sounded like wild birds every time a group of new people arrived.

We went back to our room on the canal for a nap, to find someone had taken over the seats on our balcony. It was ok, though; the tour groups had arrived, and the place was becoming a hot mess once again. It was time to leave. We caught a very well-behaved bus to the High-Speed Rail station and dined on cookies while waiting for the train while the completely ineffective security girl ignored each and every beep of her metal detector.

Hangzhou felt familiar and modern after all of the water towns we’ve seen in the past few days. After stowing our stuff at the hotel, we toured what appears to be the last old neighborhood in the city, and it is disappearing fast. The street was an item over a century ago, and is largely unchanged, but is rather run-down. We had some delicious noodles and rice at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and then walked around talking to people. One woman who was hanging things in an alley asked me for prints, and I said I would mail some to her, but she said she’d heard that story too many times, and said to just forget it. We dropped in on a family having dinner in their ancestral home; it was a very warm site, but the neighborhood is being torn down around them, and such scenes will soon be a thing of the past; you just can’t do it in a high-rise, or at least that’s what they said.

We talked with some more people in the area, including a drunken chef who insisted on sharing some beer with us, and then we explored an interesting alley that seemed to have no end, but it was late, and we’ve got another early start tomorrow, so it was back to the hotel.

posted by Poagao at 11:46 pm  

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