Fiona Johanna

From all the places I visited in China, Hangzhou was the most breath-taking place I have been lucky enough to visit. This city is a life metaphor of what calmness and balance is. It is food for the soul or “Heaven On Earth” as described by the Chinese.

I must admit it wasn’t the easiest to arrive, me and a friend took a 4h train (after running, jumping the queue in the station line, running out of breath and almost missing it), which was fully packed with A LOT of people (mostly families), hence why we couldn’t find any seat, so we sat on the floor. The bright side of it was we met Chinese locals that although they couldn’t speak English very good, they gave us their best with tips and places to visit in Hangzhou. We shared a bottle of wine with them, we played cards in the floor, and they shared their most precious time, kindness and effort to try to communicate. I will never forget a Chinese old man who took my notebook and wrote “Welcome to China”.  It was a humbling experience.

We stayed in a hostal in the middle of nowhere, we literally found it in the middle of the forest by following our phone maps, no lights nor other surroundings. It looked like a doll-house made for local visitors. We wondered around and rented a 20 renminbi bike, we canoed in the West Lake for 40. And we ate for 15. Affordable.

It was so peaceful, beautiful and calming. Places like this make me realise how beautiful our world is and how important it is to protect it.

Here are the 10 must-know things when visiting Hangzhou, and if you’d like to see how it looks like, check this awesome video here.

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