Hangzhou is the tiny (size of Sydney) tourist destination by the lake about 200 Kms from Shanghai. We hopped a metro for 70 cents each to the train station caught the BMU train (fast train) for the 200 km journey including the five stops along the way. Imagine our surprise when an hour later we were in a cab on our way to the hostel having arrived the 200km. This thing travels alongside the 4-5 lane (each way) freeway leaving cars doing 100km plus as if they are not even moving. Slow down and stop for a couple of minutes at the station (5 times) then off again…the entire journey done in an hour. I spent the entire journey staring out the window wondering how it is that Australia’s roads, trains, public transport could be in such a pitiful state when this sort of technology and efficient service delivery exists.
The train stations are on the outskirts of each city and are serviced by a metro system that will drop you within 2 kilometres of any point in the city…almost any city…at negligible cost. I guess a stable government, a long term plan for the future of your nation and non-privatised essential infrastructure can really work. But in Australia we have privatised all of our essential services meaning that such improvements will never occur unless it is economically profitable…and with a small population alas these things will never be seen.
Hangzhou is a city around a lake much like Sydney is around its harbour. The city sizes are comparable however every man and his dog from Shanghai flocks here each weekend swelling the population by about 120% extra. Like Shanghai, every brand name is available and our walk from the hostel to the restaurants took us past the Aston Martin, Audi, Ferrari, Maserati, and Porsche dealerships.
With such a huge population there is a need for leisure activity and China does public parks like nowhere else I have seen. Massive expanses of clean open usable space, highlighted by bridges, water, pagodas, dancing squares, music and singing spots. I must admit that while I am generally loving China there are a few points that are really not doing it for me.
1. The main issue is that all Chinese learned to whisper in a helicopter and have never heard of an inside voice. They do not seem to grasp the fact that you can speak softer if the person is a metre away in a confined space as opposed to 20 metres away in a crowd. The same tone and volume is used in every circumstance so at times blood emanates from your eardrums within the confined space of a metro cabin etc.
2. The other issue I have is Chinese singing and traditional music. I have heard these on numerous occasions and in a variety of settings but I have to say that these are nothing more or less than cat strangling to my ears. The high pitched whine of both the instrument or the voice just never seems to stop and is once again one of those things that will bring a trickle of blood from your poor unsuspecting eardrums.