I had been warned that winters in and around Shanghai would be cold, very cold… but somehow the low temperatures on my arrival came as a bitter shock. Triple layers needed to brave the outdoors!!! T-shirt, jumper, warm jacket and scarf were not a luxury, and if I had had the foresight of bringing thermal underwear, gloves and a woolly hat, they would definitely have had an outing. What a difference to the balmy, tropical vibes of Kerala! But on the upside, we are nearing the end of the winter and soon spring should be in the air.
On Sunday, we (me and my fellow English teachers) decided to explore the town of Hangzhou on our own and where better to start than with the famed West Lake, declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2011, and which over the centuries inspired many other garden designs in China, as well as Japan and Korea. Still footsore from my walking expedition the previous day, and battling with the swarm of local visitors to the area, we limited our sight-seeing to only a small part of the lake, probably not the most picturesque one yet.. but it certainly gave us a flavour of how the Chinese like to spend their Sunday afternoons.
Historical and pretty buildings have clearly not escaped the notice of Western predatory companies such as Costa Coffee (at least it wasn’t Starbucks), its famous logo a blemish on the ancient structures…but then the Chinese have got quite a penchant for all things Western…
It was one of those grey days, wind rearing and burning our faces, the only colour in the landscape added by the brighter hues of people’s clothing, bikes, handbags or kites.
And then we found the first signs of Spring, pink cherry blossoms to match the tattoo on my foot. And Chinese visitors relishing in the opportunities of taking countless selfies between the trees… So I followed their example!!