March 3rd: Shaoxing

(A little late with this blog entry – been a busy few weeks)

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Another of the things I’m going to miss in China: The incredibly friendly way in which a friend’s family can welcome you into their home as if you were a lifelong family friend, despite having met you for the first time 10 minutes ago.

In a typically Chinese way, Bron and I went from a Friday morning expecting to be spending a weekend in Shanghai to Friday afternoon being invited by Linda to join her on a trip to her hometown of Shaoxing, a city in Zhejiang province, just under 3 hours away from Shanghai.   And so we did, joined by Linda’s husband and daughter along with Anny’s family.

Linda’s parents, sister and son welcomed us into their home in a wonderfully warm way, with a feast laid out before us upon our arrival.  I think I’ve mentioned this previously, but it’s worth repeating: whereas I think Indian food in the UK is very similar to that found in India (although inevitably Anglicised to some extent), Chinese food in the UK bears very little resemblance to that I’ve experienced out here.  If you look hard enough, you may find Sweet & Sour Pork on a menu somewhere, but why would you?

IMGP2285Shaoxing and its surrounding towns and villages are in equal measures picturesque, quaint and rooted in history.  As the birthplace of Lu Xun, one of China’s greatest and most revered writers of the 20th century, the city is replete with many artifacts and attractions devoted to his life.

Away from the culture, we stayed in probably the cheapest hotel I’ve ever stayed in (equivalent of £14 per night), but all was fine.  We discovered later Anny’s room had an extra feature: a shower in the middle of the room with floor to ceiling glass walls.

Another excellent weekend away, with a few insights into local life away from the Western influences of Shanghai.  Thanks so much to Linda for the invitation, for your husband for driving us there and back, and for your extended family for making us feel incredible welcome.

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Before leaving for Shaoxing, again in another impromptu sort of way, Isaac, Flo and Marcel joined Bron and I on Friday night for a few Shanghai classics (Sailors for Fish and Chips, Handle Bar for draught beer and Closless for cocktails).  A great way to end the working week, cheering us up somewhat given the news we’ll be returning to the UK soon.

 

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