September 20, 2013
At 8:40am we left Shanghai for Hangzhou. We arrived an hour later than expected and ended up picking up our local tour guide in the middle of a three lane highway. Our tour guide immediately shared with us that his name is Stone because when he was younger his mother used to call him a little stone, now he is big stone and in the future he will be called older stone; he was an avid talker. We first headed off to lunch and walked into the restaurant finding that our food had been waiting on the table for us for over an hour and was stone cold (ha ha). Cold soup, fried fish, gong pao chicken, chicken in a basket, pork dishes and rice; I decided today was going to be a rice day. After lunch Stone guided us around West Lake. West Lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is made up of “one hill, two causeways, three islands, and five lakes.” Hangzhou is known to be the happiest city in China and after only being here a couple of hours I knew why. Stone led us to the boat cruise that would take us across the lake. Hangzhou is absolutely beautiful, on the water there were boats everywhere and small islands filled with forest of sleeping willow trees. Along the coast was all buildings that resembled “old” China, in the distance were the “new” China developments such as the skyscrapers and beyond that were the beautiful blue mountains. Stone informed us that the water was only six feet deep and that the bottom of the water was filled with quick sand so we should be careful not to fall in. Obviously the boys and Professor Mulcahy saw this as a challenge and the perfect competition to see who can lean over the railing furthest. After getting bored the games stopped and I went up to the front of the boat to soak up the view. We passed a number of bridges and huge areas with water lily’s. The cruise was only an hour but I could have stayed on the lake all day. When we got off the boat we were forced to go to the hotel to check in. The hotel was in a small village area outside of the city center and took us over an hour to get to because of all of the traffic from the Mid-Autumn Festival Holiday. After checking in we quickly grabbed dinner in the village and then got back on the bus to go to the Impressions on West Lake performance. This performance is one of the greatest, most spectacular performances I have ever seen and I left feeling completely moved. The choreography, lighting and music left me completely speechless.
After the performance a group of us went to a local restaurant to celebrate Graham’s 21st Birthday.