Although the distance between Shanghai and Hangzhou is roughly 200 km, travelling between both cities often takes less time than the transfers from and to the railway stations. Hourly non-stop high-speed trains connect the two hubs (a ride takes only 50 minutes), thus making a convenient daytrip possible.
Bob, another friend of Aaron, first showed us the West lake with an extensive walk over the embankment, an artificial connection diagonally across the lake consisting of many islands and short bridges. Even though it was raining, we enjoyed its picturesque green design and the view of the hills surrounding the lake, which sometimes carried a small pagoda. Eventually, we reached a beautiful Chinese garden that would have encouraged us to lie down in the grass and soak up the rays of sunlight through the leaves of tall trees if the weather had been nicer.
The restaurant we headed for lunch was called “Green Tea” and located directly at (and partly on) the lake. Incontrovertibly, the meal was the best we had so far in China.
In the afternoon, we visited the Lijing temple complex that consisted of several huge halls with impressive Buddhist decoration. The biggest statue of a sitting Buddha in China still seemed to be a pilgrimage place for many people.
Later on – it was pouring with rain by now – we met one of Bob’s friends called Clover. As an expert of the next sight we were about to enter, she had offered to serve as a competent guide. The mansion of an incredibly rich businessman dating back to the Jin dynasty with its countless rooms and halls, extensive but yet cozy gardens, and sophisticated architecture was definitely worth a visit.
After a nice dinner with Clover and Bob in a big restaurant close to the railway station, the daytrip came to an end as we boarded our train back to Shanghai. Thanks a lot for a really nice time!