Home » Free Rides in Green Town @ Hangzhou, China

Free Rides in Green Town @ Hangzhou, China

Couple

with F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8

After living in China for a while, I kind of got used to everything being one of three things: very old, very beautiful, or very famous.

“You must go to the Forbidden City. It is very old.”

“You must go to Yunnan. It is very beautiful.”

“You must go to Shenzen. It is very… famous. In China.”

The last one always seemed a bit of a cop out.

Hangzhou is about an hour from Shanghai on the bullet train – “You must go on the bullet train. It is very fast.” – and actually does fall into the second category.

It really is very beautiful.

west lake hangzhou

A garden city really, with an abnormal amount of green. Everywhere. Even the football team is called Hangzhou Greentown. They were named after a local property developer, granted, but we don’t have to dwell on that.

It did make it easy to develop a common theme for my pictures from the short trip I took there though.

scenery at hangzhou west lake

stone bridge at hangzhou china

boy at hangzhou china

road lined with trees hangzhou china

West Lake photography

The West Lake is probably what most people who know anything about Hangzhou would think of first, and with good reason, as it’s what they promote most as a reason to visit the city.

Centuries old, Hangzhou’s West Lake is that rare tourist spot in China; as special as is claimed, and with enough space to easily get away from the crowds.

Boat trips, pagodas, temples, causeways, willows, huge leaved water plants, parks, and cycle-friendly paths around most of the perimeter make it a superb place to spend a couple of days, and of course take some photos with your manual focus lenses.

leifeng pagoda at west lake hangzhou

hangzhou west lake

pagoda at hangzhou west lake

hangzhou west lake

hangzhou west lake china tourist

bridges at west lake hangzhou

stone lion in hangzhou china

Temple at the lake

On the south end of West Lake sits one of Hangzhou’s main temples, Jingci Si. Although there has been a temple on the site since AD 954, a lot of what stands now was built in the 1980s.

Regardless, it’s a spot that made a good subject for a change of direction in my set of photographs from Hangzhou. Not overcrowded yet partly overgrown, it also offered enough greenery to continue that particular theme just a little longer.

temple in hangzhou china

candles a chinese temple

worshippers at chinese temple

chinese temple archway

temple in hangzhou china

Hangzhou walking street

Away from the West Lake, Hangzhou has a really nice pedestrianised area, featuring the usual collection of tourist souvenirs and snacks for sale. Most cities in China do seem to have these walking streets, but Hangzhou’s just felt more pleasant than most others I’ve been to.

Even the children seemed to more polite in their impoliteness than anywhere else.

chinese buddha

china street photography

blue and white china tea cups

beads for sale on night market

The street food at the night market was pretty good too; who doesn’t like potato smiley faces? Not sure about the scorpions though, I have to say.

Smiley faces

hangzhou street food

scorpions night market food

Free bicycle rent in Hangzhou

What I liked most though was probably the free bicycle hire in Hangzhou.

Dotted all over the city are automated stations where you can use a swipe card to get a bike and return it when you’re done.

It’s free for the first two hours, with prices rising incrementally to a maximum of 3 RMB (about 30 pence) for anything over three hours.

hangzhou bicycle rent

hangzhou bicycle rental

If you want to be like the locals though, and why wouldn’t you, you’ll return the bike before two hours and immediately rent it again, repeating the process all day to never pay anything.

Despite not all of the bicycles being in the best condition, you can’t really complain when they are being provided for nothing.

It’s a scheme more cities should look into, in my opinion. Not just in China either, but worldwide. Get your population fitter and cut down on vehicle emissions. What’s not to like?

man on motorbike in china

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Hangzhou, China. One of the country's greenest and most visited tourist cities, which in China is saying a lot. West Lake is where most people know and head for first, and with good reason. It's a beautiful spot for walking, relaxing, and cycling. And photography, of course. Bicycles are available for the public to rent too, and can be gotten for free if you know how to play the game. In this account of a weekend in Hangzhou, I'll tell you how.

 

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