Today is Sunday, the 11th of September 2016. I’ve been in Hangzhou for three days now and I have to say it really is something. Let me start at the beginning ; we flew from Brussels to Beijing, a flight which was quite comfortable (partly because no one was sitting behind us and we were able to lean our seats all the way back), but it really did take ages. 9.5 hours is a lot longer than you would think. When we arrived at Beijing we had to go through immigration first (which sounds a lot worse than it actually was), get our suitcases, go through customs and check them back in again for our flight to Shanghai. It was hot and humid at the airport and we were super sweaty and tired, and could not find the place where we were supposed to check our bags back in again. Eventually we did find it, checked in, and went through security. The second flight to Shanghai only took about 2 hours, and once when we were properly up in the air you could really see a layer of smog covering the land when you looked down.
Once landed in Shanghai Hongqiao airport we could immediately retrieve our bags and then find our way to the train station. The train station was actually on the third floor of the building and after a 15 minute walk we arrived, booked a ticket, and waited on our train to Hangzhou to arrive. Boarding the train was easy and went in a very orderly fashion. About an hour later, we arrived in Hangzhou (which was around half past 1 in the afternoon). We hopped on to a cab and told our driver where we needed to go. The driver was very nice, but the traffic was completely insane, extremely chaotic. After a 30 minute drive we arrived at the gate which was closest to the building where we needed to check in. We announced ourselves present and we received the keys to our “apartment”. This is where my expectations flew out the window, and not for the right reasons. From the outside, the building looks very old and kind of.. gross. The word gross got another meaning when we actually opened the door to our apartment and found out the one of the toilets was just a hole in the ground… When you haven’t slept in over 27 hours, sweating, aching, and arrive at your apartment where you will be staying in for the coming months and it’s like this, you can imagine the disappointment.
Anyhow, our room itself is actually okay. It has working air conditioning, the beds are a reasonable size, and there is a lot of (dirty) storage space. My classmate and I are sharing one room, which I think is better than sharing your room with a ‘random’ stranger.
After dropping our bags and doodling around for a little bit, we decided to go look for the Wallmart which was supposed to be near the campus, to buy water, food, etc. We could not find it at first (it’s behind a really big sports stadium) but eventually we did, and I have to say, it is the best supermarket I have ever been to in my life (so far). It has everything you could ever want to buy for your normal everyday life, in one huge store. However, by walking around the city for a while, I really noticed how bad the smog was and realized that I would definitely need a mouth mask.
So that was basically day one. On the next day we properly registered ourselves at the international college building and we bought a Chinese sim card . Also, we went to Wallmart again with our other housemates, to buy cleaning stuff and some appliances.
So today is the third day and we explored the campus some more (when we went back from Wallmart on the first day it was already dark and we got lost on campus) and went to Starbucks. At the moment it is 6.30 PM and we are about to go out for dinner. Tomorrow we will have our placement tests and hopefully be able to get Wi-Fi in our room. The classes won’t start until Monday the 19th so we have some time to find some shopping malls and visit West-Lake.