Saturday, December 18, 2010

HALAL 1: Dong Yi Shun, Oriental Restaurant

We are very thankful for Halal food in Hangzhou!  There's not very many Halal eateries that we know of.  In fact, we only knew this one before coming, thanks to Wm Rashidi's Air Asia Blog.

So here's Halal 1: Dong Yi Shun, Muslim Restaurant, Oriental Restaurant, located at Gaoyin Street.  They have a selection of Arab dishes as well as Chinese dishes.  This restaurant became sort of a 'staple' restaurant for us while we were there.  We tried both their Arab and Chinese cooking, and they were good!  Expect prices of meals and side dishes to be between CNY20 to CNY 50 per plate, depending on what you're ordering.  But all the prices are reasonable and not very expensive.

Note: food photos are from different visits to Dong Yi Shun, not all at once! :)

p/s:  All the food we tried were delicious.  But I must say, the fried shrimps were just scrumptious!!!

DAY 1: Checking In the Hotel

We stayed at Sunny Hotel, located at Jie Fang Road.  The location is pretty strategic, because we could walk to West Lake, walk to the night market and walk back from Hefang Street.  Since it's a main road, catching a taxi was not that difficult although at time you would have to wait or compete with other people in getting a taxi to stop for you.

One of the very first things that was different at the hotel was the bed.  The bed was not fluffy and soft at all, although the quilt may make it seem so.  At first we thought it was the hotel (even tempted to think about changing hotel).  But, thanks to the availability free internet access and Google, we found reviews by other travelers that most beds in hotels around China are a bit hard.  It's supposed to be good for the body, or something like that.  So do expect this if you come a across beds that are a tad harder than what you're used to.  Fortunately, there were extra blankets in the wardrobe, and this can be an alternative to making your mattress softer.  (I'm sure you can ask for more blankets from housekeeping if the ones provided are just not enough).

Hangzhou is also known for its Longjing Tea.  We were given a selection of Longjing Tea and Chrysanthemum Tea.  This one is Chrysanthemum Tea, but Longjing Tea tasted quite nice too, more herbal I would say.  Give both a try, especially it a covered tea cup like this.

And while resting and relaxing, it would be good to have a guidebook of China or Hangzhou with you.  We bought this one at Hangzhou Airport.  I think it's a pretty cool book -  not as dense as most guidebooks, but rather, it has a personal touch of the author who traveled and drew cartoons of China in his 10 years journey.  It has a bit of humour too.  He points out special customs, special food and bits of history of each region in China.  This pretty much guided us in understanding a bit of the culture here, although not in depth, but I would say good introduction to the region.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

DAY 1: Watching the city from the outside to the inside

The airport is located about 45 minutes away from the city.  The ride along the way was nice as we got to see how Hangzhou's development design change along the way.  You see that there's a lot of three or four-storey apartments or houses in the outer city area.  They have a liking to decorate their outer walls with patterned tiles.  Keep your eyes open along the way, and you'll catch very specific styles that they have in their buildings.


Upon entering Hangzhou city, you'll cross over Qiantang River.  This is where the new urban development is taking place.  High rise, convention building, offices and an urban park.

And not long after that, you'll reach Hangzhou city centre.  Much like the older parts of Kuala Lumpur.  You'll definitely notice the swarm of cyclists in the city!

DAY 1: Arriving at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport

Welcome to Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport!

Upon arrival, visit the Information Counter to get a tourist map.  Ask them to write the name of your hotel in Chinese.

TAXI FARE: The fare for taxi from the airport to the city will range between CNY80-100.  That's roughly about RM45-50.  When you pay, the taxi driver will ask you for an extra CNY1, that's extra 1 yuen than what is displayed on the meter.  This is for the fuel surcharge.

Planning Your Itinerary

What do you look for when you travel?  Since we truly enjoy walking around the city, and seeing what the city is like, and we like to see designs, that's what we go for.

So for Hangzhou, we listed these places to visit: West Lake, walk around the city, the night market, visiting any new urban development, places to buy their products, and a day for Shanghai

We spent 6 days in Hangzhou.

Day 1: Arrive + Check-In + Dinner
Day 2: West Lake + Hefang Street (a pedestrianized shopping street)
Day 3: Silk shopping complex (+ conference)
Day 4: Qiantang River development area + Zhongshang Road a.k.a Imperial Street (+conference) + Wu Shan Night Market
Day 5: Shanghai (The Bund + Nanjing Road + Xintiandi)
Day 6: Depart back to KL

There are other interesting places to visit, such as specific gardens at West Lake and museums in Hangzhou.  Our conference group tour went to these other places, but we opted out from the group tour to visit Shanghai for a day.

So do a bit of homework to put together the best travel itinerary of Hangzhou for yourself.  Stay tuned!

Pre-Travel Plans

Other than preparing the budget for your travel, there are essential things that you need before traveling to Hangzhou.

1. A VALID PASSPORT:  Make sure it's more than 6 months before its expiry date, or else, I don't think you'll make it out of the country.

2. VISA: Yes, you'll need a Visa to get into China.  If you're in Malaysia, go to the China Embassy over there, and if you're somewhere else in the world, go to the respective China Embassy near you.  You can search for Visa application process and payment online.  If you're traveling for holiday, they will probably ask where you will be staying and your travel itinerary over your stay there.  So it's good to plan out roughly what you where you will be going each day, especially if you're going on your own and not with a tour agency.  If you're going for a business trip or attending a conference, then you will need to have an invitation letter from the organizer in China, indicating that you're a participant in that event.  It takes about 3-4 working days to process the Visa, but it's good to do it early once you get your tickets and accommodation confirmed.

3.  FOOD:  Finding Halal food in Hangzhou is not too difficult, but there's not a lot of options.  Now with Walk Walk Hangzhou, you'll get to know of THREE Halal restaurants.  Great, isn't it?  Makes traveling much easier :) But, since the immigration is not as strict as Australia, it would be good to supplement your food stock some of those instant dishes/lauk.  Some bread/crackers/buns would be good too if you're not sure of the ingredients of food at the shops there.  And don't forget the ever-favourite Malaysian instant noodles, if you're into that like we are from time to time.

4. CUTLERY: If you're staying in a hotel, most likely they will only have cups, saucers, glasses.  So just in case you brought those instant food with you, bring along some containers, fork, spoon, and butter knife if you need.  Containers are useful if you want to bring something while you're out walking around the city, and you can also use them as plates.

5. COMPASS & PRAYER MAT: You'll need one to find the Qiblat direction.  If you have iPhone or other phones that have a compass, then you're all geared up!  We found that the hotel in Hangzhou asked us to wear slippers inside the room, unlike hotels in Malaysia where walking barefooted on the carpet is clean enough.  So a prayer mat or a piece of cloth that you can lay on the floor should be sufficient.

6. PLUG CONVERTER: China uses different plug points than Malaysia and Australia.  If you find a cheap on to bring, that would be good.  We didn't bring any because we didn't know it was different, but luckily we could borrow one from the hotel.  So just in case you didn't bring one, ask the hotel.

7. LAPTOP/PHONE WITH INTERNET: We found this to be VERY helpful during our stay there.  Try to look for a hotel that has free wifi.  Our hotel even had FREE internet connection from our room.  This had made our trip much easier in terms of looking at Google Map and planning our city adventures there.  But unfortunately, you cannot access any blog sites from there, and that includes our Walk Walk Blogs.  You can't access most social networks either like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

8. ROAMING FOR YOUR MOBILE: Most prepaid number in Malaysia would have auto-roaming.  If you haven't already done so, it is good to activate one.  Just in case you need to call the hotel, or text your friend/family members during traveling, a mobile phone is a life-saver.  Don't expect to buy the local prepaid over there, because with gaps in communication (us not being to speak Chinese and they not being able to speak English), that would be very much troublesome for you.

9. A POCKET NOTEBOOK & PEN: Yes, as much as we love digital things, basic tools are necessary.  You can use a pocket notebook to keep track of your expenses, and most importantly, you can ask the hotel or the info centre to write the places that you want to go in Chinese.

10. CHECK THE WEATHER: If it's Autumn, which is the time that we went in November, you will need a light jacket because it can get windy at times.  A light windbreaker will do, unless if you in the Winter.

11. MAKE A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR PASSPORT: A MUST when traveling abroad.  This is something we somehow forgot to do, but thanks to a fellow Malaysian we met at the conference who reminded us to do so before we went to Shanghai.  We were lucky that the hotel had a place where we could do a photocopy.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

So you're planning a trip to Hangzhou?

Welcome aboard!

Travelling to Hangzhou from Malaysia couldn't be easier nowadays with Air Asia flying from LCCT directly to Hangzhou International Airport in just 5 hours.

Now where exactly is Hangzhou?  Hangzhou is located in the province of Zhejiang, on the east coast of China.  Shanghai is right above it.  Beijing is further up north, while Hong Kong is further down south.

Map via

Whether you're going there for a little adventure, a business or academic trip, or for a holiday with friends or families, Hangzhou will surely be a great learning experience.  We'll share with you our 6 days of 'walk-walking' Hangzhou to give you a head start for your own travel plans.  And did I mention that includes a day-trip to Shanghai?  It sure does!

Get your bag packs and luggage ready, and most importantly, your most comfortable walking shoes, and join us for a walk around Hangzhou.  Stay tuned!