Our first week in Hangzhou found us reestablishing our life in a much different way than we are accustomed to living in Minnesota. We met with some old friends, did some basic grocery shopping, signed up with a Chinese telecom provider for Chinese phones, took a tour to the nearby canal town of Wuzhen, enjoyed three wonderful Chinese dining experiences, and quickly remembered how to cross a Hangzhou intersection without getting killed.
We walked the streets near the apartment and went looking for the convenience stores and restaurants we had frequented when we were here two years ago, but, alas, we found most of them gone. Construction on the next block appears to be the reason for the loss of a couple of our favorites. We also took the bus to places further away, and found those gone, too. Actually, this is not an uncommon phenomenon here in the city; we learned during our last stay that these small shops and businesses come and go with regularity in Hangzhou. However, it does mean that we will have to find new restaurants—both take-out and sit-down—that are not too far away.
Char got started with school on the 24th. She has been making lesson plans diligently. Unlike me, she is anything but last-minute, so she is working weeks in advance. She found herself dealing with the administrative issues that are probably common to teachers in many places—no computer, workspace not ready—that kind of stuff. Actually, the last job I had was the same way; it was like they didn’t know I was coming onboard.
The weather is mostly rainy. We saw one partially sunny day without rain, which was nice. Otherwise, skies are overcast and most of the time it’s raining. Temps are in the 50s and will be all week, but it will rain almost every day.
Hangzhou is in Zhejiang province. It is one of the country’s most prosperous provinces, so a visitor here will see extensive automobile traffic on the streets. Nevertheless, much of the population travels via electric motorbike or bicycle, which remains a primary means of travel for many. How the Chinese deal with the wet weather on these bikes is most interesting. Most wear poncho-like waterproof coverings. But interestingly, the poncho will also cover the front of the motorbike. And if a child happens to be in tow, it will cover the child as well.
We are waiting (impatiently, if truth be known) for our bus passes. Having a pass greatly simplifies using busses as it eliminates the need to constantly be looking for 1 yuan coins. A bus ride in most cases is 2 yuan (35 cents). Transfers are not used here, so if a rider needs to change busses, he or she must pay again. Spending a fistful of coins during a week on the bus is quite easy to do.
I haven’t yet found a gym/pool. The facility I used in the past appears to have changed its policy, so I am uncertain whether I will be able to use it. I prefer a gym, and I would really like access to a pool. Finding a place that is close to the apartment is the tricky part.