I ventured forth into the downtown wilderness of Hangzhou. Well, the Binjiang district of the city. This city is HUGE. Many times larger than Seattle. This is where my current residence sits. It sounds like it may be another week here. I’m okay with that as I’m surrounded by small restaurants and shops. I love the way the streets here are laid out. Busy streets with a path for scooters and bicycles and a large sidewalk on both sides. Some portions of the streets have many small shops and restaurants. Not the large grocery stores I’m used to. One store to buy bread. Another to buy fruits and veggies. Another as a butcher shop. Even passed by the liquor store. Now I need to find someone to drink with. I stepped into many of them just to check them out. Here’s what it looked like.
Turned a corner and this is what it looks like.
Super busy street just to the left of all those trees and bushes. I’ve heard of city shopping like this, but I’ve never experienced it. If you’re wondering, why does that sidewalk look empty? Probably because I’m the only one dumb enough to be out in the hottest part of the day (I think just over 100 degrees today). Also,
every time I enter a building there’s a QR code to scan so they can keep track of my contacts if there’s a Covid outbreak. I don’t mind, but I think this is the sort of thing that locals complain about when they talk about the government being over bearing.
Eventually I realized I’m starving and popped into the first place for some food. It was called Reef Duck. The lady there was a bit perplexed when I had my phone translate “I’m hungry. Please feed me the thing you like best from this restaurant”. Eventually we understood each other. The restaurant was a pick and choose stir fry. She assembled me a large concoction of stuff.
It was veggies and various meats that she put in a bowl before mixing it in a peanut oil sauce. It had a bit of heat. Not too hot, but just enough to notice. Plenty of flavors. I was super appreciative and tried to give her an extra 5 RMB, but she wouldn’t take it. The entire meal was about 18 RMB ($3 usd). As I was walking away it hit me… I had read about this yesterday and spaced it. Dang. Chinese culture demands that they decline any tip or gift at least three times. I messed up. I’ll make sure I go back and do it right later this week.
Here’s the meal, and yes, I’m forcing myself to learn chopstick use. Thanks YouTube.
Something I did remember that I read yesterday was not to do this…
Apparently, sticking your chopsticks in your food is a no no. It resembles incense that you would burn to mourn someone. I only show it here as a lesson for others. And yes, sprint cars on my computer screen again. It works out well that all the racing on Friday and Saturday nights at home are live to me here on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Tomorrow I will likely grab a bike from the street and try to find the new school that’s getting the finishing touches. The bikes are everywhere and after scanning a QR code you can rent them for 1.5 RMB an hour (that’s $0.25 USD and hour). I will need to check with the HR staff beforehand. Not sure if all the roads to the new school are safe for bike traffic. If not, perhaps I’ll venture towards West Lake instead. It’s not far from here, just on the other side of the Qiantang River.
Update: plan is to see new school Wednesday along with some others. Tomorrow will head towards West Lake to explore.
Final note of the day. There are items that are close to impossible to get here that we don’t think twice about back home. Milk and cereal are super rare. I can live with that. Cheese is never to be seen. Uh oh. That’s going to be a problem. Most Chinese people have lactose issues, hence no cheese, milk, or ice cream. Rats. I guess if you can find them they’re super expensive.