Bike Riding in Hangzhou

May first is a public holiday in China. So all of China is traveling. So usually foreigners avoid this time and do not travel to a touristy place like Hangzhou. We did. And it was so great that we had bikes so that we could actually get around the green city.

Bike Riding in Hangzhou

We went back to the West Lake and had some breakfast there. But even on teh far side it was very busy with many Chinese people.

West Lake and slightly Misty Weather

In many places in Hangzhou the bicycle lanes were very wide and separated from the car lanes.

Wide Bicycle Lanes of Hangzhou

But in some areas, especially close to the lake there were so many tourists that they were even on the bike lane.

Tourists on Bicycle Lane

May Holiday Tourists everywhere in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is famous for its‘ bike rental system. They have the automatic rental stations all over the city. Some were not not used so much today, like this station.

Guy just returned a rental bike

The bicycle renting system is great. You can pick up a bike at one station and then drop it off at a different station. Even young ladies in skirts were renting bikes.

Lady in skirt returning a rental bike

And many rental stations were quite empty which means the bikes were out being rented. It is great to see this system working. Only for us as tourists we could not use this rental system as we could not buy a card. Therefore we had teh bikes of teh guest house and had to return them back to there.

Empty Bike Rental Station in Hangzhou

As we had not planned on coming to Hangzhou we did not plan a sightseeing tour. Instead yesterday when we arrived we bought a Chinese map. In the map some streets were marked as „te se“ which means special. So today our tour was not following a lonely planet route that all foreigners do, but to see what the Chinese think is special. It did remind us that we actually were foreign as some of the streets did not seem special to us. We had lunch in the special food street, but we afterwards agreed that the food in the tiny hole in the wall restaurant yesterday had been more tasty.

The Special Food Street of Hangzhou

To avoid the masses we then decided to cycle to the Eight Diamond Fields in the mountains. It actually was fields with crop.

A Chinese Style Picture

Then we slowly cycled back to our guest house to drop off our bikes. We were amazed about the amount of peopel on the streets around the zoo and our guest house. We had planned to take the bus to teh train station and we already had our first class train ticket back to Shanghai. But we were shocked to see theamount of people all wanting to board the same bus as us. We let the first one go off with Chinese jammed in. We did not yet know that it would take forever for the second bus to come as these were special May 1st busses. But we also checked for taxis and of course there were thousands of other people also desperately looking for empty taxis. So when finally after a long time the next bus came we had to do it teh Chinese way and just ram down the others and push us in. We wer one of the lucky 10 people that could squeeze themselves on this competely overcrowded bus. We were happy of that achievement. But then the issue was the traffic jam. We did not notice how bad all the roads were while cycling past. But the bus was hardly rolling. It took forever to reach the first station which was not far away from the zoo. I had the idea to maybe get off at one of the next stops where there woudl be less people and then try to get a taxi. But that was wishful thinking. After 1.5 hours we had still not reached the second bus stop but we knew already that we had missed our train to Shanghai 🙁 But we did not want to miss our train from Shanghai to Beijing. There was no way that we would get a taxi and it would also just be standing in traffic like the bus. The people crammed on the bus themselves ssaid that it would be best to ride a bike. Even the bus driver agreed that the fastest way to get around Hangzhou is a bicycle. How wonderful! It was great to hear them have thise thoughts. At the second bus stop we got off and started walking. We knew it would be not as far as what we walked on the first day. We actually arrived at the train station much faster then I expected. We first went to the ticket hall to see if we can buy a new ticket. But as it was May 1st it was overfilled with people. It would probably take 2 hours to get to the counter and then there would probably be no more tickets and by thenwe would have missed the train to Beijing. So we decided to go to the waiting hall and see when the next fast train to Shanghai departs. It was very soon. We knew that many people today must have missed their trains, so we just lines up as if we had the correct tickets. But the lady at the ticket check detected that we have teh wrong tickets and said we have to buy new ones. We just stayed right next to her. She continued to chek the tickets while we thought our only chance is for my to look really upset and almost cry and to show her our first class tickets for the Shanghai-Beijing train that we really did not want to miss. In teh end it worked. Probably also because we had the expensive first class tickets for teh Hangzhou-Shanghai. That was a close call.

Back in Shanghai we needed to get all our bike exhibition stuff and the bike out of the storage and then run to the platform. It was again very tight but we actually made it onto the night train back to Beijing.

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