Shanghai 2012: Hangzhou (West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda, Longjing Tea)

Introduction and Flight on AA
Google Maps in China
Sheraton Changzhou Xinbei Review
Changzhou Summary
Intro to China High Speed Rail (CSR)
Cantonese Food and Ramen in Shanghai
Intercontinental Shanghai Puxi Review
Nanjing (City Wall, Nanjing Massacre Memorial, Purple Mountain)
Suzhou (Tiger Hill, Humble Administrator’s Garden)
Changzhou Tianning Temple
Hangzhou (West Lake, Leifeng Pagoda, Longjing tea)
Flight Home and After Thoughts

Hangzhou is another large city not too far from Shanghai. Hangzhou is famous for its West Lake and Leifeng Pagoda. Unfortunately, it was a gloomy day (not sure if its fog or pollution, both common to China) so the view wasn’t great. However, it was still very nice.

It was about 90 minute train ride away. The train to Hangzhou only leaves from HongQiao station, which is a slow 45 minute ride away from downtown Shanghai. The station is much newer than Shanghai Railway and adjacent to HongQiao Airport.

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The station looks bigger from the inside and can be seen from far away on the highway.

Security into the departure area

Security into the departure area

Departure waiting area

Departure waiting area

4 turnstiles guarding the entrance to one pair of tracks. There is an entrance on the other side of the departure hall.

4 turnstiles guarding the entrance to one pair of tracks. There is an entrance on the other side of the departure hall.

Line to adjust your ticket or refunds

Line to adjust your ticket or refunds

Line for buying tickets. Ticket machines are by the wall on the right, which few people use.

Line for buying tickets. Ticket machines are by the wall on the right, which few people use.

Day Lockers

Day Lockers

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Giant board listing all the trains and departure times.

Giant board listing all the trains and departure times.

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Sign displaying which train is going where. You need to make sure you're getting on the right train.

Sign displaying which train is going where. You need to make sure you’re getting on the right train.

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This station links to mostly train tracks that are dedicated to high speed passenger traffic and the starting point of the HSR line from Shanghai to Beijing. Trains from Shanghai Railway can connect to this dedicated rail at a few different junctions. In some of the pictures from the inaugural train ride from Shanghai to Beijing, it started from HongQiao station.

The train ride was fairly quick and scenic. It ends at Hangzhou station, the only HSR train station in Hangzhou at the time before the Hangzhou East station opened in July 2013. The train pulled into the station on very old tracks, so the speed was limited when it approached Hangzhou.

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My plan for the day was to walk around the lake and visit the pagoda. It took most of the day as it was about a mile and a half from Hangzhou Railway to the lake and 7 miles around, not counting some detours depending on which route you take around the lake.

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There were many signs advertising tea in shops on the way to the lake.

And you can’t miss this giant billboard for a tea convention. I guess tea is kind of a big deal here so I looked into it on my brisk walk around the lake. Hangzhou is most famous for longjing tea, which means dragon well tea. Many would say that longjing tea would need to come from this province of Zhejiang province. However, as everything else in China, there is a risk of being fake or being just ordinary tea so be careful of buying tea in a a random store.

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Here are some of the pictures on the walk to the Pagoda. I stopped off at another exhibit.

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There was something being filmed here.

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I finally arrived at the Pagoda.

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When you walk into the ground level of the Pagoda, you will see the ruins of the original Pagoda, which collapse in 1924. You can read a bit more about it at the wiki page. A new pagoda was built and finished in 2001 with steel and copper and 4 elevators and other modern amenities.

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The pagoda offered really good views of West Lake, which was ruined by the weather and poor visibility. There was a huge line for the elevator so I climbed the stairs. The stairs were pretty narrow and it only allowed for two people to go up or down. Technically there are stairs for going up and another for going down, but no one really followed the signs or rules. I picked whichever one I can go up or down on. There were about five levels and each had their own paintings and decorations, which was cool to see.

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You can see some rowers in the lake rowing past the bridge I was on.

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I eventually came upon a decent looking tea stand and ordered a cup to try. It was pretty good and a relaxing way to end the day. I ended up buying some Longjing Tea for about 50CNY. If I was scammed, at least I wasn’t scammed a lot. My mother got worried about me buying tea in China as she was afraid I was going to get ripped off. My brother consoled her by saying “Oh he’s too cheap to be scammed. The most he’ll lose is probably a few bucks.” Man he was so right.

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As you can see, the tea leaves are not too tried and retain most of their shape. They should all be a similar color and shade of green. This is the kind of tea leaves I normally see in people’s thermoses in China.

I walked back to the station and waited online for about 45 minutes to get a ticket. I managed to grab a late lunch nearby the station and then took the train back to Shanghai. The train was very crowded, even in first class. I had wish i gotten the business class ticket, but it was way too expensive.

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