Tag Archives: Hangzhou

In The News This Month | September

News and Travel Editor

Time feels like it has flown by since my last news round up, and with good reason – it’s been a very busy month! From gold medals to grapes in space, there’s been a lot of big stories this September. Here’s my pick of the best stories to come out of China in the last month:

Jackie_Chan_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpgIt was announced this month that Chinese acting legend Jackie Chan is getting an honorary for his extraordinary achievements in film.

I have decided to reconsider my career choices after hearing that Chinese Team ‘Wings Gaming’ won millions of dollars playing a game called DOTA 2 at an e-sports tournament.  Who wants to join me for next year’s competition?

The G20 took place in Hangzhou. For everything you need to know about the city and the conference, have a look here!

 

Chinese taxi-hailing giant Didi announced a move towards bicycle sharing . (Psst did you know that the world’s biggest bike share scheme is in Hangzhou, China?!)

The world’s longest desert highway is now open in China’s Inner Mongolia

The world’s largest radio telescope entered its testing phase in Guizhoufast-thumbs-8

How far will you go for the perfect glass of red? China has begun sending vines into space on a quest for perfect wine

China dominated the Paralympic Games winning a total of 107 Golds and a staggering total of 783 medals!

September 15th marked the commencement of the Mid-Autumn Festival, traditionally celebrated with Mooncakes, family reunions and lanterns.

moon-cake-master

Curious to try first-class food in an airplane, without leaving the ground? You’ve got to visit Wuhan’s brand new airplane restaurant.

Yao Ming was inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame with a little help from the only man tall enough, Shaq

In perhaps my favourite bit of news so far this year, it was announced this month that Pandas are no longer endangered in China.  I love Pandas, as you can probably tell from my previous posts, and fingers crossed they’ll be more furry friends for me to ‘aww’ at on the China Icons YouTube channel soon!

more gruel plz

This concludes another round up of in the news this month. Did you spot a great story I missed? Is there something you can’t wait for coming up in China in October? Let me know in the comments below!

 

The World’s Biggest Bike Share Scheme

News and Travel Editor

China is known as the ‘Kingdom of the Bicycle’ and so it came as no surprise to us that it also hosts the biggest bike-sharing scheme in the world, according to figures by the Earth Policy Institute.

But can you guess which city? Nope, not Beijing or Shanghai….

Enter Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province in East China, and home to 9 million people. In Chinese terms, it’s a small city and perfect for cycling! Research shows that three bikes are hired every second, with the bikes rented out around 114 million times in total in 2015.

Known as Hangzhou’s ‘little red bikes’, you can take your pick from around 84,000 of them, all of which are free for the first hour. By 2020 the total number of bikes is set to grow to 175,000.

To find out more, we joined bike mechanic Qiu Shaohua as he went about his work fixing and maintaining bikes. He got the job in 2010, when Hangzhou had a mere 30,000 bikes and in the last six years he’s seen that number almost triple.

Qiu mends around 30 bikes a day but it hasn’t damped his passion for cycling – he still spends his weekends riding to iconic places like the UNESCO listed West Lake.

Have you cycled in China, the ‘Kingdom of the Bicycles’? Let us know how you found it in the comments below.

 

What can I do in Hangzhou?

News and Travel Editor

There’s one Chinese city that’s been on everyone’s lips over the last weekend, and that’s Hangzhou.

Unless you’ve been off the grid for the last few days, you will have noticed the buzz online about the G20 taking place in China. It’s brought a lot of attention to a city that you may not have heard of before, but you will see a lot more of in the future.

So, what’s there to do in Hangzhou? Here’s a list of top 10 things to do that’ll make you want to add Hangzhou to your travel bucket list.

  1. Hire a bike from the biggest bike share scheme in the world. With over 70,000 bikes available from 2,700 stations you’ll never be without a ride (especially as this number is expected to DOUBLE by 2020).Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 15.48.51
  2. Climb the steps of the Leifang Pagoda for panoramic views of the city. The five-storey tower was originally built in 975AD, but the version we see today dates back to 2002 as the original tower sadly collapsed in the 1920s!
  3. Be sure to make time for a leisurely paddle across the West Lake. The stunning freshwater lake has inspired poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It even appears on Chinese money!Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 15.51.46
  4. Grab a cup of tea with a view at the Meijiawu tea plantation, renowned for producing Longjing Tea for over 600 years. (Don’t know your Longjing from your Oolong? Read this)
  5. Take a selfie outside Alibaba, the world’s largest retailer founded in 1999 in Hangzhou by Jack Ma.
  6. Visit a paradise for bookworms and architecture lovers alike at the Zhangshuge bookstore.Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 15.53.11
  7. Give in to temptation and try local Street food at Hangzhou Snack Street. Want to try a local delicacy? Grab a beggar’s chicken, the city’s signature dish. The flavour comes from coating the chicken in MUD before roasting!Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 14.06.06.png
  8. Southern Song Imperial Street was built during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279AD). Back then, it was used only by emperors when offering sacrifices to their ancestors and to heaven. Now, you don’t have to be an emperor to stroll along the street. Visit after dark to enjoy the sights and sounds of the vibrant night market! Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 15.53.58
  9. For a glimpse into old Hangzhou, step into Hefang Old Street to experience Southern Song Dynasty architecture and traditional Chinese crafts, such as sugar-blowing, paper-cutting and hand-made dough figurines. Ctr1.jpg
  10. Lingyin Temple, or ‘Temple of the soul’s retreat’, is perfect for catching your breath after a day spent at bustling markets. The temple dates back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420AD), and it remains one of the largest and most visited Buddhist temples in China. As you enter, an inscription on the door reads:  ‘Let us sit and wait upon the threshold, where we shall see another peak flying from afar. Let us welcome spring with a smile as the snow melts and the brook starts to flow once more.’. 800px-Great_statue_of_Sakyamuni_in_the_Mahavira_Hall_of_Lingyin_Temple,_Hangzhou.JPG

How would you spend a weekend in Hangzhou? Have we missed off something that you’re desperate to try, or a recipe you just have to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Your Crash Course to Hangzhou and the G20

Features Editor

Several years ago I found myself in Shanghai at the same time as a big international conference.   The whole city came alive – the additional public transport, uniform on the street and the help for visitors was beyond any delegate’s wildest dreams. The sheer numbers of people enjoying the outdoors and frequenting the restaurants was immense.

For little old me, not attending the conference, it was both exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure!

So today, on the eve of the G20 – a finance forum for the world’s major economies – I have some understanding of how Hangzhou’s 9 million residents might be feeling.

Incase you are new to Hangzhou and the G20, let’s start with the basics.

HANGZHOU

Hangzhou may not be a city that you are familiar with.

That’s because it is a ‘second tier’ city and therefore not a location with the same international name recognition as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai – all ‘first tier’ cities due to their population, size and growth domestic product.

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But being a second tier city, doesn’t mean second class. Instead it means that the city has been earmarked for additional development and infrastructure, and recommended for international investment and opportunities. Some might argue that Hangzhou is a particularly good bet given its personal connection to a certain Xi Jinping, former party chief of Zhejiang Province before rising to become President of China.

Hangzhou is one of China’s ancient capitals and was the country’s historic, political and cultural heartland during the Sui and Song Dynasty. Marco Polo is said to have called it the most beautiful and magnificent city in the world and Chinese poet Yang Chaoying ranked Hangzhou just below paradise.

Today, modern and ancient attractions sit side by side, with visitors as likely to be wowed by tech company Alibaba’s striking headquarters as UNESCO heritage site West Lake

But whether the G20 delegates will have time to enjoy the city is another matter!

THE G20

Formed in 1999, the G20 is a forum for the world’s top 20 major economies (G20 stands for Group of 20). Those economies account for 90% of the world’s domestic product and 80% of global trade. The G20 leaders meet every year, with the agenda generally set by the host, although this can depend on the pressing issues of the year.

In short, the G20 is a big deal.

And more so this year, being the last visit to China by outgoing US President Barack Obama and the first international acts of diplomacy by incoming UK Prime Minister Teresa May and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri.

As the host, China will set the agenda, with President Xi scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the opening ceremony. He will be championing empowering emerging economies on the international stage and encouraging innovation in science, tech and development through international cooperation.

The Hangzhou G20 will be held on 4th and 5th September.

If you are in Hangzhou for the G20 – or are a resident – we’d love to hear your personal experiences in the comments below.

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Sunset over West Lake

 

 

Hangzhou’s All-Female Park Rangers

News and Travel Editor

If you’re heading to Hangzhou for the G20, you’re in safe hands with the city’s all-female patrol. Specially set up to assist visitors over the G20 global financial forum, this 21-strong female unit knows the city inside out.

After months of intensive training, these guards are all set to help visitors, tackle any antisocial behavior and even do a spot of entertaining when the children are playing up!

China Icons joined Zheng Qunfang on patrol around the scenic West Lake. Zheng’s journey to becoming a female ranger was trickier than most. First up, she’s not originally from the city. Plus she has a heart condition and fainted on the first day of training. Today she walks 15 kilometres a day and loves making a difference to the people she meets across the city.

Are you in or off to Hangzhou for the G20? Visit us again THIS FRIDAY for a special 72 hour selfie in the city and let us know how you spent your time in the city!

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Stunning West Lake in Hangzhou