Yesterday, we spent the day in Hangzhou, about an hour and a half from Shanghai by high-speed train. Hangzhou is the capitol of Zhejiang province and was once described by Marco Polo as paradise on earth, saying that the city was, "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world." Today, Hangzhou is home to over 6 million people (a small city by Chinese standards) and is a hugely popular tourist site.
The focal point of the city is West Lake, which has several small islands and causeways running through it. We started our day with a tour of the lake and some of its islands on a replica dragon boat. From there, we enjoyed walking around the city, exploring "silk town," where silk is made and sold, munching on street food (eggplant, potato, and mushroom kabobs!), and checking out the night market. We ate dinner in a pretty standard Chinese restaurant, but were lucky (?) enough to sit by the tanks of fish and other sea creatures, getting a good view everytime one was scooped up to be someone's dinner. While in Hangzhou, we ran into a phenomenon which we don't experience much in Shanghai - people asking to take their picture with us (you'll see a couple of these awkward moments in our album.) Being American (and white) seems to afford us some level of celebrity (for better or worse), especially in smaller towns.
Enjoy the pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/1546.