Hangin’ in Hangzhou

Hangin’ in Hangzhou

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.

Oliver and Nora on the train

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.


William and Magnus
kids’ playroom




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).




Brendan and Hannah


Sarah and Magnus


The lovely Porter crew.


We watched this dragon boat come all the way across the lake. You can imagine the kids’ excitement!
Holy Dragon Boat, Batman!

We took a boat into the center of the lake and then back to the east side after hours of playing and fun.

Hannah and Sarah


They started to slow down!

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.

tea plants on the hillside


kids on the hillside, too


Hannah and Nora
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.

Magnus watching the world go by.

We look forward to our next adventure with this beautiful family.  Thanks for the trip, Porters.

Our whole beautiful crew!



7 thoughts on “Hangin’ in Hangzhou

  1. Spectacular! Especially that dragon boat. Glad all of the children had a place to run wild. Photos are stunning. Thank you, Kate!

  2. Beautiful pictures! We still try to see our New Zealand friends Mary and Graham every chance we can—we miss them as neighbors…such warm, happy, energetic, hard-working people! Glad you found the Porters to share your adventure. Love Aunt Laura

  3. Just looking at your Christmas card, thank you, and love to read about your adventures. Some day Nora and Magnus will say, “Oh, well, yes, I visited the Great Wall Years ago…” sending lots of love and joy.

  4. Oh, Kate! This is such an amazing and incredible journey for your family. Way to seize life by the horns and make the most of this wild ride.
    You are an inspiration to us all to get out there and see the world. Thanks for sharing this experience with your loyal fans back at home.
    PS: The kids look so much older all of a sudden 🙁

  5. I’m in awe of how great you write!! I’m sad when it’s over. The train ride is hilarious I read it again hahaha when you put weight on him hahaha I can’t stop laughing visualizing all the Chinese people! I love your life stories I would definitely buy your book!!

    1. This makes me so happy. Thank you! I do enjoy writing. I owe it to my best friend Cassadie, and a few other English teachers 😉 She taught me everything I know through here blog, which you would love, too. It is called redscreendoor.blogspot.com, you should totally check it out, Jan!

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