The second stop on my speaking tour of China was Hangzhou, about an hour out of Shanghai on a high speed train. It's a wealthy city of more than 8 million people with a few sights to see for the many tourists who come here. I actually saw Hangzhou advertised on the side of a London bus before I went..
Hangzhou is all about West Lake. As well as a nice boardwalk over the water, there's a promenade and rides on funny boats that look like pagodas. Chinese people believe that if you make a wish here, it'll come true.
After a walk along the lakeside, we grabbed a tasty lunch at Grandma's Kitchen, a popular local chain restaurant.
Probably my favourite part of Hangzhou was the tacky Chinese touristy Qinghefang Old Street (I wasn't sure how old it actually was...). There were all kinds of teas, trinkets and weird souvenirs on sale, various street performers, as well as few tasty things to snack on.
I naively went into the Huqingyu Tang Chinese Medicine Museum, thinking that I could buy some Chinese medicines 'for a laugh' as Christmas presents. Of course, the remedies on offer at this really grand apothecary run into the tens of thousands of pounds (the most expensive of all are Tibetan "Summer Grass, Winter Worms" - a fungus that looks just like a caterpillar - is worth more than twice its weight in gold).
In Hangzhou we stayed at the Oakwood Serviced Apartments, a pretty comfortable 5* set up, with a kitchen and washer dryer in the room (I always appreciate the chance to wash clothes in countries where everyone smokes indoors!).