Better accommodation in central Xi'an, within walking distance of the Muslim quarter markets. The narrow lanes are full of butcher shops (definitely not like ours - open air variety). Lots of food stalls, and other wares. Virginia and Max had to buy another bag to put their goodies into. Met ex student of Max, Leon, who took us to dinner with his friends. They then took us to the Big Goose Pagoda where there happened to be the launch of the huge fountain display in the square. The fountains sprayed in time to all sorts of music. The next day he took us to see the wall surrounding the city. It was only a small part of the original wall but would still take four hours to walk around. Then went back to the Muslim quarter for another meal before bus to the airport to Hangzhou.
We arrived in Hangzhou to rain after a delayed flight. Got to our accommodation at approximately 11pm. Rooms tiny again and air conditioning non-existent at night but fortunately not too warm here. Next morning taxi to silk street. Had difficulty making driver understand where we wanted to go. We were overwhelmed by all the silk goods and the rain and lack of cafes, we left having only spent 10 Yuan (under $2.00)! Walked the streets in the rain, found a Macdonalds to have coffee, walked some more and found Women's Fashion Street - out of our league. Lots of different styles and brands. We were taken on a merry walk through the back streets to buy some fake bags etc. Didn't stay long - actually, couldn't get out of there fast enough. Had no luck getting a taxi home. Bad time of day and they didn't seem to want to pick anyone up. Ended up catching a bus which was so crowded people were leaning against the front door. Free ride because we had no small change but the driver showed us where to get off near home. That night, enjoyed a meal hosted by Max's colleagues on a magnificient boat on the Grand Canal which was built by the people many hundred's of years ago. It used to go from Beijing to Hangzhou. Pam had some special meal made for her - mushrooms and an egg custard. Next day it rained all day. Virginia and Pam went shopping and bought nothing, but discovered a lovely park with lakes and bridges. Meanwhile Malcolm walked for an hour to an expat venue and enjoyed watching the grand final. Came back hoarse. Pam and Virginia went to West Lake, manmade from swamp hundreds of years ago. It is the most popular attraction, especially on Chinese National holidays which we discovered to our horror - and it runs for a week! We got out of the taxi, took some photos, and turned around to go back home straight away. The masses of people and umbrellas were just too much! It took us an hour and a half to find a taxi to get back. It was just too busy. We were pretty well soaked when we got back to the hotel. WEnt out to dinner with Max's students, ie, professional businessmen and women, most of them wealthy. We went to the West Lake Garden Restaurant where we had a private room overlooking a floor show. Even more dishes for Pam this time. They took us for a drive around the lake in their Mercedes and Audi before bringing us back to the hotel. Heaps better than the bus! Last day today so will report from Shanghai if we have enough time - Max has lots to show us there and we have plenty of shopping to do.