Every year I set out for a solo trip on my birthday. It has become a tradition over the years. So, when I moved to Shanghai, I thought I would have to let go of this tradition as I was completely new to the place. Apart from "Ni Hao" and desperate actions using hands, I could not utter any Mandarin word to save my life. Friends suggested to stay in Shanghai and enjoy the skyscraper view in a nice restaurant. But I needed greenery, a bit of tranquillity and I didn't have any clue on where to find that in the vast landscape of China. Hangzhou came up in a conversation with a friend just before my birthday and I realized that it was the perfect place for my birthday.
It was October. Hot summer days were gone and the autumn was already there even though not in its full glory. There was coldness in the air and the trees were in the process of bursting into colours. I took the bullet train to Hangzhou from Hongqiao and it was my first time ever in a bullet train. The journey was short and sweet with not much crowd as it was a weekday. I arrived in Hangzhou around 9 PM and took a cab to the YMCA hostel. I crashed into the bed without having any set plans for my big 30th birthday.
I woke up early that morning and wished myself a very happy birthday. Because I carry a bit of Indian tradition with me, I decided it is better to go and take a shower. I didn’t know the bathrooms were common for guys and girls. It felt weird to stand among half naked, handsome guys for morning ablutions. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed it. I enjoyed that cold shower in the pristine water of Hangzhou and my hair behaved best that day.
I didn't have any plan for the day except for a stroll around the lake and what better way to know a city than on foot. West Lake is surrounded with beautiful garden and there is an option for boating as well. But there is nothing like walking. And nature blessed me with an ideal weather also - not too sunny, not too cold either and one can walk around the lake without getting tired. West Lake is surrounded by beautiful garden. One can never get tired of this scenic beauty.
Leifeng Pagoda was constructed in 975 AD. It is located on the South of the West Lake. Actually, I was not planning on visiting this. But I ended up here as I was walking around the lake and thought I might just have a look. Also, I was curious to get a view of the lake from the tower. You can get a glimpse of the Pagoda in the below picture if you are not too blinded by the gorgeous bride in red dress.
I visited Hangzhou in a week day. Still, it was filled with tourists. But I was really the odd one there as most of them were local tourists. Some groups even asked me to take a photo with them. My dark skin and curly hair stood out in the sea of Chinese people. I have never received that much attention in my entire life and welcomed it despite my shyness. Those people were warm and gentle, not the hot-headed people I usually came across in Shanghai. I always find people in small cities as warm hearted and gentle than the people in metro cities.
Time passed really quickly even though I was walking during the entire day. I didn't have much luck with the food though. A slice of cheese cake and a nice cup of rose tea was my lunch. But I loved every moment of my walk around the lake. I was kind of floating with happiness.
I always wanted to go back to Hangzhou when the Autumn was in its full glory. But life had other plans. Hangzhou will always remain close to my heart for making me feel special on a day that I was meant to spend all alone.