Day 5, 24th October 2009, Saturday
It was pretty hectic day on Saturday. Most mornings were wasted at those specialty shops. The trick to visiting China’s specialty shop is – to be the last one to get your deal, you would end up having the best deal. When we were visiting the green tea shop, we also “made” to pass by their shopping centre located on the way out. We gotten 5 packets of Taiwanese mochi for 100 yuan where another group of girls gotten theirs – 7 packets for the same price! You tulan or not??
So, when we were visiting the chrysanthemum plantation on the last day, we just showed disinterest. At first, they were selling 2 boxes of good grade chrysanthemum for 200 yuan. We ended carting away 5 boxes of good grade chrysanthemum for the same price. So people, repeat with me – Show disinterest, be the last to bargain, get at least 50% off (this does not apply to the green tea though. But you can bargain to get more freebies).
I think I like Tongxiang Leather Market the best. We went on a hunting bargain. I managed to get two pairs of leather gloves at 70 yuan and a nice hobo leather bag at 100 yuan (original price was 500 yuan!). It’s really thrilling to do the bargaining here. Anyway, if you are a local, they would straight away quote cheaper prices. We were looking at some wallets as presents for my dad and cousin brother when a local group dropped by. The sale assistant immediately offered them 20 yuan per wallet! As for us, we had to bargain till the cows come home and we still have to pay 40 yuan!
Soongchen transports you back to ancient times
Anyway, after the “brutal slaughtering” of prices at Tongxiang Leather Market, we went off to Soongchen. It was a theme park in Hangzhou. Here, the staff all dressed in their ancient clothings. It surely transported you back in time during the glorious days of the Chinese Dynasties the moment you stepped into the place. We had a good time walking about the area. However, since it was a weekend, there were seas of people again! A whiff of foul-smelling tofu lingered in the air, peddlers actively selling their food and wares, jugglers performing, fire eaters, acrobats showing their gracefulness, puppets play, etc. There was even a guy holding a gong and hitting it periodically like the olden days – asking people to beware of fires at night.
Graceful dancers, fit for a king
After a brief walkabout, we went to watch the Soongchen show: Romance of Three Kingdom. Actually, I seriously have no idea what the show is all about but then, it was spectacular! Imagine – rain falling in the theatre! They even have waterfalls, live battles with canons and real fire and live horses running about! The scene I enjoyed the most is probably two dancers dancing in the dark with only two green spotlights. Made it looked somewhat artistic and futuristic. The show was put up by “second” grade dancers according to our tour guide. They don’t look like second graders to me! They are simply awesome! There were many oohs and ahhs throughout the show!
Very, very yummy chicken thighs
After watching the amazing show, we were given time to walkabout again the place and of course, we had some dinner here. The baked chicken thighs are delicious!
Our last stop for this Eastern China’s trip was Qihefang. It’s Hangzhou’s walking street. Here, I think the walking street is about 10x longer than Jonker’s Walk in Melaka. There are rows of shops and little stalls in the middle of the lane. The place is quite spacious so you don’t have to bump into people while walking. It’s very comfortable to walkabout and not having to sweat because of the slightly cold weather. Get your things from the little stalls as the prices in shops are not negotiable. There were fireworks at the West Lake nearby when we were shopping there. It was really a lovely night!
We ended our fruitful trip with bags of silk quilts, pillows, green tea, pearls, wuxi pork ribs, chrysanthemum, teapots, leather goods, fake goods and little knick knacks. Of course, also the privilege to know some really nice people throughout the trip.
Some tips on going to the airport though. Please have your meals at the lower ground of Hangzhou airport before checking in. Hangzhou Airport is very strict as they scan your temperature even before letting you go to the check-in counters. Once you get into the check-in counter, you are not allowed to go out. So you had no choice but to go through immigration already.
After the immigration counters, there were only 3 shops selling food and drinks and I tell you, they cut throat! One sandwich meal is about 50 yuan! Many of us ended eating instant noodles as they are the cheapest! Please buy things from the shop nearest to the immigration counter as they are cheaper! Here, one bottle of 500ml mineral water is about 3 yuan while the last shop sells at 5 yuan for each bottle! You may also bring your empty bottles in as they have water dispenser there – but if you meet a group of aunties and uncles, then you won’t get any water because they would exhaust the warm water as if there were no water in Malaysia!
So, this post concludes the 5D4N trip to Eastern China.