Hello my Sassy Fam!!! Welcome back to our Eastern China exploration journey! Thank you so much for being a part of it and for asking so many questions. I always love replying to you all and suggest places, brands, etc to the best of my capacity. If you need a day wise break down of the trip, you can either check my Instagram’s “CHINA 2018” – highlights or check out our YouTube China Vlog part 1 which is already live – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irnd0DFpRvE&t=12s
On day 4 we headed to Huangshan, from Nanjing and checked into our hotel, Crowne Plaza. It is just a 3 hours drive on such beautifully made straight highways with tree plantations on both sides of the roads. China has recently planted over 50 million trees and this is one of the main reasons why you feel cooler here even during summers. We called it a day early as we had to get up at 5 a.m. the next morning. We kick-started Day 5 by gearing up for the famous “Famous Yellow Mountain”.
Crowne Plaza is a 45 minutes drive to the Yellow Mountain. From there on, you get on a bus uphill for 20 minutes and then you hop on the scenic 10-mins gondola ride. What’s unique about the Yellow Mountain, is that it was formed more than 100 million years ago and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During December-January you can experience snow-capped mountains along with constant snowfall too, but the hike will get difficult for sure. Make sure to carry a water bottle or two and a walking stick for support as you need to climb at least 300 steps to get up there. This is one amongst top 10 must-see places in China and its highest peak is the Lotus Peak which is 1,864km above sea level.
You can spend an entire day here, exploring the beautiful mountains, 100 years old pine trees, scenery and it’s peculiarly shaped granite peaks. I’m thinking this will make an ideal Bollywood song setting no? Agree ya nahi???
On Day 6 we decided to explore the famous “Hongcun Village” which is situated at the foot of Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province. This is a World Heritage Site too and it is straight out of a fairytale.
I mean if you ever have paid attention to Chinese paintings from anywhere in the world, or if you believe in feng-shui, then you are in for a treat here at Hongcun Village. It has 800 years+ history with Anhui-Style buildings all over.
The Southern Lake and the Moon Pond are the two most picturesque places to visit in the village and you will spot so many painters surrounding both these locations. Aah, what a magical sight!! The Southern Lake along with it’s arch can be spotted in the famous movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Directed by Ang Lee”.
I came to know through the locals that this spot is known to unite the light, the sky and the water all in one “COLOUR”. You get to pay a visit to more than 140 well preserved historic houses all the way from the Ming and the Qing dynasty, including their schooling areas, praying areas and residential areas. They believed in keeping a part of their roofs open to allow ample sunlight and rainwater in the house.
Best Time to visit this place would be – March & April. Remember to keep at least half a day free to truly enjoy your visit here.
Post which, we were on our way to Hangzhou which is the capital city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China and it is well-known for it’s natural views, lakes and the leisure life. We took the high-speed train aka bullet train which was a quick 3-hour journey from Huangshan Railway Station to Hangzhou. Quick fun Facts, Hangzhou is also the headquarter for the famous Alibaba group and it also has many wholesale shops of fashion which is a hub for many brands to pick outfits at unbelievable prices for retail across the globe.
Our hotel Shangri-La was just 15 mins away from the railway station and after we checked in, we immediately rushed to witness a magical show on the West Lake bang opposite to our hotel called the “Enduring Memories of Hanhzhou”. Imagine witnessing live performances on the original West Lake itself in a natural outdoor setting with 3d effects, lights show, stages, music and props popping beneath the lake amongst 1000’s of performers. It was like watching a dream come to life. After all, this show is directed by the famous Zhang Yimou, who had been in charge previously of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. All the performances present us with various stories driven by the myths and legends of the West Lake in Hangzhou. Have a look at some of our personal favorite performances :
- Ballet Swan Lake Act – It is a salute to the famous Russian Ballet Swan Lake.
- Moonlight Act – They say, the night cannot be complete without the moonlight mirroring in the lake.
- Unforgettable Jasmine Flower – These acts have a combination of all the popular and unforgettable Chinese Folk Songs.
- Ode To Joy – This is the final closing act on a happy high!
On Day 7, it was time for us to explore the huge man-made West Lake a bit more!! It was designed taking cue from the garden-style-parks seen in Chinese tradition. It is located in the western suburbs and has become a historic center for Hangzhou.
We took the 1-hour double-decker open ferry ride that shows you some of the important West Lake landmarks from the lake itself.
Another must visit on the West Lake is the “Lotus Pool” during Summer. In the past, there used to be a winery surrounded by lotus flowers in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), exactly where I am standing.
Visiting the “Viewing Fish” at Flower Harbour is so interesting and unique. The Viewing Fish goes all the way to 1127 when the government official Lu Yunsheng raised various fishes in the pond. I also saw a poem written here that said – “AT FLOWER HARBOR AT THE FOOT OF FLOWER HILL, PETALS FALL DOWN ONTO FISH”. We spent hours here feeding the Red Carps, and within seconds the pond was reddened when we started!!!
When in Hangzhou, you have to witness the grand “Romantic Show of Songcheng” which is the symbolic performance of Hangzhou. The theatre has moving chairs and it has a seating capacity of over 1000 people. The show is so popular worldwide that tourists and locals flock here every single day, so make sure to book your tickets in advance.
This show is performed over 2,000 times every year since it’s inception and it has been performed for over 20,000 by now. This is the only show that sits in the top ranks of the most watched shows all over the world alongside the O Show in Las Vegas and the Moulin Rouge in Paris. These three are regarded as the “Top 3 Most Famous Shows in the World”.
Enjoy the pre-historic Hangzhou journey through these acts.
We spent the day exploring the famous Qinghefang Ancient Market which is a famous shopping and hangout destination for the locals. It came into being during the Southern Song Dynasty in 1127 AD.
After spending an amazing week here exploring Eastern China, it was finally time for us to head home. We had a connecting flight via Changi Airport with Scoot and then from Changi we headed back to the bay in our most trustworthy Airlines “Singapore Airlines” in Business Class.
Like always, it was a ride backfilled with such comfort, luxury, super spacious seats and top notch hospitality with Singapore Airlines!!! One Airlines we can blindly trust for timely take-offs or departures and a completely luxurious experience, time and again is Singapore Airlines. We also had 5 hours to spare at Changi Airport, Singapore, so we decided to check into KrisFlyer Gold Lounge.
It is available on both the terminals – 2 & 3 in Changi Airport and the best part is that it is open 24×7.
To have an access to this luxurious lounge, you need to be either flying business class with Singapore Airlines or you need to be a KrisFlyer Elite Gold Member flying economy class. Both Salman and me loved the lounging area along with the live breakfast counters and their grand buffet.
Do keep a lookout for our next China VLOG PART 2 that will be up soon on YouTube.