The crescendo of phlegm rising from the depths of half a dozen Chinese peoples’ throats heightens as I approach Ningbo train station. The mighty mucus-drawing abilities of locals permanently etched into my brain, I stare at the never-ending zig-zag ‘queue’ questioning my decision to go to Hangzhou during the national holiday. However, despite my initial reservations, visiting the capital of China’s Zhejiang Province was delightful.
I spent the first evening strolling the scenic streets of Tangxi, a town situated in Fengshun County. Perfectly named ‘half-city, half-countryside’ the town was brought to life by swarms of people, beautiful rice dumpling creations (made especially for the festival) and mesmerising buildings stretching the riverbank and lit up in technicolour.
I devoured intricate hand-made sugar dragon lollipops, black bean dumplings and even tried ‘stinky tofu’- known for its medicinal properties!
Singing Jordin Spark’s ‘One Step At A Time’ to propel my body forward, I made my way to ‘the most famous cake shop’ for essential tourist purposes.
Clearly looking foreign (and explaining that I do not eat eggs or dairy) the lovely shopkeeper stuffed traditional treats into two big bags. My face quickly altered from panicked and internally crying to Cheshire-grin content when I discovered all the food was free of charge!
My trip to Hangzhou was marked by the amazing people I met, their generosity and hospitality had no bounds. Feng- our home-stay host prepared fresh green tea and laid an abundance of fruit every evening as we shared our adventures and pictures from the day. She took us to a traditional hand-pulled noodle market (almost like an Oriental Subway) where you pick any ingredients you wish to add to your dish. I messily slurped my noodles with chopsticks (like a local for the very first time) and refused to give in to using cutlery- despite the laughing onlookers!
Our stay was completed by attending a grand college banquet: celebrating the rigorous examination system a Chinese person endures to get into a British university. We dressed up, ate lots of dishes that were near-toppling the ‘lazy Susan’ table (minus the chicken feet dish) and took 101 selfies with V-for-Victory signs.
Thanks for reading!