A Journey to a Foreign Land – By Merry Ann V. Verga

First ever trip to Hangzhou,China was all I can ever think of the whole time prior to my departure. As they say, “beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world.” Imagine a city with a total population of over 6 million (last time I’ve checked) and circles around it is its main attraction the West Lake.

From the Philippines, it took me almost 20 hours combined trip of normal sitting on plane, airport lounges, and a bus ride to Hangzhou.  My arrival wasn’t that easy at all; people speaking a language which is a lot too foreign from where I come from.  Good thing is that I’m armed with a little English that can help me make it through the day.  Now, here is the thing…can they even understand my English??? Yes! Just as long as you say it slowly and clearly; hand signs matter too just in case you’re in doubt that they haven’t understood what you have just said it will help you big time. J.  One thing you need to carry as well is a calculator aside from the handy map that I think you already have in your backpack. Ask me, what does a calculator do when I travel?? Answer, use it to show prices!  There were times that I have given my best basic English slowly as possibly as I can, but to no extent all I can do is take out my calculator, do the hand sign (thumbs up or down)…funny but it gives me a great feeling in the end.

Just as I travel I also need to refuel myself…food! McDonald’s and KFC are good, but 3 to 4 times in a week, I gave up! There are a lot of Chinese restaurants that you may choose from; you can even see food stalls right at the streets of Hangzhou. Tofu and dumplings for me are the best if I don’t have much time to figure out which one is good or not…just eat whatever Chinese people eat! They are so much conscious with their health, so I guess it will be no problem at all.

Summer in Hangzhou may be humid even hot, not to mention this is my second summer in a year! There are days when it’s roasting hot that sometimes it reaches 40 degrees in Celsius. On the other hand, you can always appreciate the rainy days that usually lasts in just a few hours or even minutes. FYI, make sure you have an umbrella handy. If you are the type of traveler who is not used to walking, then I suggest you take the bus; it’s the first choice next to renting a bike.  Buses in Hangzhou are way different from where I’m from; theirs are much homey (literally).  Although most of the times it’s fully loaded with people stretching out their arms just to grab hold onto something for balancing. Sometimes there was even no room to swing a flea let alone a cat!  The experience was not bad at all, not to mention who you may step on to. J Looking at how China had developed over the years, it is extremely picturesque, just a shame I can’t visit each scenic places as of this time (I might get lost!).

In the evening, I was trested to wonderful views such as the tall buildings mirroring in all directions, street lights illuminating the city, the enticing smell of food just right at the walks. Traffic on the other hand is not too much compared in early mornings and late afternoons, but on the brighter side, you can always get to see the real Hangzhou while you get stuck in it.

Everyday I take the same route which I believe is getting boring, and I am thinking, why not try another??  They say the longer you stay in one place the higher the risk of wanting to get home…I don’t think so…this is just the beginning of my journey…who knows what will happen next right?

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