HangZhou City, ZheJiang
Being in China for the first time, i was very eager to experience the culture and lifestyle of the citizens and how it differed from Singapore. On our way to ZheJiang University’s Zi Jin Gang Campus, i could see that HangZhou was a very technologically advanced city. Not only was there a constant presence of electric cars and scooters, there were many e-commerce transports such as DiDi drivers (equivalent to Grab Drivers) and TaoBao (equivalent to Deliveroo) deliverymen. Even within the campus, convenient shops like Family Mart utilized “cashless” payments for people to purchase everyday goods because it was highly efficient. The payment method simply included using Alipay or WeChat pay and scanning the QR codes to complete the transaction. This new insight really opened my eyes to realise how powerful technology is and the benefits it can bring to the people by simplifying daily tasks.
We were also given a chance to visit HangZhou’s own Town of Designers where each company showcased its own unique prototypes. Some of the interesting prototypes we encountered were the wireless charger in a bag and the eyemask heater. These modified products were created to tackle everyday problems that ranged from the charging of a phone to road safety. Moreover, we also entered Xiaomi’s own prototype lab where they displayed even more high tech prototypes such as drones, washing machines, vehicles and humidifiers. It was very impressive that China has its own dedicated area for designers to be able to experiment on their own prototypes. Further more, each company specialises in different technology and the close proximity of their locations significantly increases the convenience of collaborating with one another.
Exploring XiHu (西湖, West Lake)
During our free time, we travelled to XiHu and Lei Feng Ta (雷峰塔, Lei Feng Pagoda) to learn about the city’s culture and also go sightseeing. Not only was there an excellent view of HangZhou’s city centre and XiHu at the top of the pagoda, we also learnt the origins of Lei Feng Ta via the engraved murals within the pagoda. It describes Lei Feng Ta as a safe haven from evil. The tale describes an immortal that came down from heaven to liberate the people from the chains of the evil emperor. As such, the people constructed the pagoda to commemorate the bravery of the people and hence has became a landmark of Xihu.
Walking along Xihu, we could see many families and couples having picnics and photoshoots. Besides its rich history, the lake also provided a spot for socialization and family bonding. Xihu’s tranquility and peacefulness was indeed an ideal getaway destination from the busy city life.
Buddy Day – White Pagoda Park
During the weekend, we were grouped with local students who brought us to White Pagoda Park at the South of Xihu nature reserve. Once a train station that ferried commercial goods, it is now home to numeral homemade restaurants that serves local cuisines such as crayfish and chicken soup. At the centre of the park sits the White Pagoda that represents the intricate architecture of the Song Dynasty. Its 9 levels with statues carved on each of its sides depicts the protection that the gods give to the villagers in the region. The park is an excellent example of how rich culture, history and nature can co-exist together even in a modern city.
City Centre and ancient streets
At night, the city centre transforms into a vibrant area filled with shops and malls that sold food (such chicken fillet, bbq pork and chou dou fu), bubble tea and mala. In addition, it is also home to numerous ancient streets that sell local souvenirs and delicacies (such as pork pancake). The nightlife was constantly bustling with activity and there was never a dull moment. The lakeside at the heart of the city centre had an evening water show which capped of an extremely enjoyable and fruitful first week in HangZhou. I will be definitely be looking forward to the next week!