And that's the merry band I spent my Saturday with.

Hello there! Alex here.

If you missed the last post, here it is! Week One

In my previous post, I had detailed only the earlier half of my week – my trips to Xihu (西湖)and Beigaofeng (北高峰). Interesting as they were, they were hardly the highlight of my week – that would have to be Buddy Day on Saturday.

When the schedule for May was released, there was this mysterious entry named Buddy Day on a perfectly normal Saturday. Sufficiently vague, the name gave little hint as to what to expect. Later in the week, we were presented with 10 plans that students from Zhejiang University had come up with – they would be taking us out to see Hangzhou on Saturday. With the veil of mystery lifted, we looked upon Saturday with expectation rather than caution. We’d be visiting Xihu (again), a handful of museums, watch a lightshow, and of course, eat.

Saturday rolled along, and we met up with our buddies outside the post office. I don’t plan for this post to be too long, and since pictures are worth a thousand words each, I’ll skip to the highlights with photographs.

I like sunsets and cities. So why not have both in the same picture?
And that’s the merry band I spent my Saturday with. We met on campus earlier in the morning.
Our first destination was Xihu – it’s my second time here. We wanted to go rowing on the lake itself, but poor weather stopped us from doing so.
We went to eat at Wai Po Jia – Grandma’s Home – for lunch. Food was alright, albeit unfamiliar. The food was meant to be reminiscent of food from our childhoods, but I grew up on Cantonese, Singaporean and Malaysian food so zero nostalgia was evoked. The pig Liu Sha Baos were too cute to not photograph.
Fans from the Handicraft Museum we visited on Buddy Day. We were all clamouring trying to get the most aesthetic shots – in retrospect that was a bit unbecoming of us.
Beef Hor Fun from Tai Ping, a relatively upmarket Cantonese restaurant. It tasted much like Char Kway Teow back home. To say the least, we polished off all the food.
I don’t remember what this was called, but it was beef, and it was delicious.
Ice Cream and Toasted Bread from Tai Ping. For some reason, this is considered part of the meal, but not a dessert. Still tastes great though.
A postprandial stroll led us to this. We’ve seen this in Singapore before, but watching it on this scale in Hangzhou is something quite different. When the whole cityscape is the canvas, it’s quite the visual spectacle. Once again, the photos don’t do it justice.
Pretty cool eh?
We caught this at night after dinner, and it was 17 minutes of me trying to hold my phone still and recording it. Lights and music accompanied the fountain’s dance. The pictures are videos don’t quite do it justice however.

One of the many things I’ve come to appreciate about Hangzhou is how serious the city is with security and public order. I am not too sure if this is just a feature of Hangzhou, or the wealthier Chinese cities in general, but security personnel are ubiquitous. You’ll find them everywhere from malls to train stations to tourist attractions; in the latter, you’ll find them doing plenty of crowd control. Bag scanners and metal detectors are equally common – you’ll have to go through one to get into a train station, as well as to get into major attractions. You’d hardly find security personnel appearing in force back in Singapore, and it could mean a myriad of things – does it mean that Singapore is safer, and Singaporeans sufficiently law-abiding and socially conscious to not require these? Or are there threats that the Chinese must deal with, and are hence standing guard against? Could it be that all these blatant forms of security are simply to assuage a concerned population, or to ward off those who would disrupt the peace? I do not know. Whatever it may be, it seems interesting. I should really look into that.

Anyway, next week I’ll be heading to Shanghai with some fellow SUTDents. We’ve all got our reasons, and mine is to eat at Canton8, a Cantonese restaurant with 2 Michelin stars. Xiaolongbao (小笼包) is also in our to-eat list, as with whatever other Shanghainese food that we can find. As you can tell, I’m really looking forward to that, and I’m equally excited to tell you all about it. With that, I bid you adieu. See you next post.

Oh wait, here it is!

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