One of the great things about living in Shanghai is that there is a myriad of travel we can do near the city that has rich history and wonderfully beautiful landscapes. We have also been lucky enough to find wonderful travel companions in our dear friends from New Zealand, the Porters.
Our first weekend getaway was in November to nearby Hangzhou. The Porters have warmly welcomed us into their family here in Shanghai and they are wonderful people with warm hearts and giving spirits. Their kids are amazingly kind and caring, so ultimately I want our kids to spend as much time with them as possible.
A short hour train ride got us to Hangzhou. The kids loved the train, and it went quickly.
Aaron found us a sweet little hotel that had interesting outdoor spaces for the kids to play AND a kid play room with a lego table and big foam blocks.
We left Shanghai early in the morning so we dropped our bags off and headed to the park to the west side of West Lake to play. The east side of the lake seems like the place everyone goes, it is the side close to the city and it was packed with people. The west side was long stretches of parks and walk ways wrapping around the lake. The scenery was beautiful and the kids ran wild.
We miss the wide open space of home where kids can roll around and get dirty, climb on rocks, go off-trail and explore. There on the west side of the lake there was plenty of room for that. As the kids played, the parents talked, walked, sat, and drank coffee (Starbucks is everywhere).
We took a boat into the center of the lake and then back to the east side after hours of playing and fun.
Hangzhou is an ancient city, one of the seven ancient capitals, in fact. It really grew when Emperor Qin in the 220s B.C. connected the Grand Canal (1,000 mile long man-made canal) from Beijing to Hangzhou. Hangzhou was the center of silk production for the empire, and was the center of the tea industry as well. Marco Polo explored the area in the 1200s and said it was the most beautiful and spectacular city he had ever seen (Aaron said it is his favorite, too).
It is, indeed, beautiful.
The following morning we headed up into the mountains around the lake to hike through the tea plantations. We found a tea museum of sorts. Once again the kids ran, and climbed. Trails wove through rows of tea, trees changing color in the autumn sun and up to temples that over looked hillsides of tea plantation and the urban city of Hangzhou in the distance.
After a nice lunch it was time to head back to the train station for the trip home. We left Hangzhou feeling refreshed and content.
We look forward to our next adventure with this beautiful family. Thanks for the trip, Porters.