I Won’t Drive to Hangzhou Again

I am back from Hangzhou, and I would say, I will never drive to Hangzhou again.

Hangzhou is only 45 minutes away via high-speed rail, and the transportation to and back the railway station is so simple for me, and the only bottle neck is to get to hotel from the Hangzhou railway station. It takes for ever to build the metro in Hangzhou. Despite that, I should enjoy the relaxed time in Hangzhou via taxi, or local cars, not driving. I am very tired after the long trip.


Longjing is My Favorite Village

“40-year-old is the time to form one’s value system”, He Ying meant it when we had coffee tonight, after I am back from Hangzhou (the fourth consecutive weekend).

The mountain area of Hangzhou is very good place for exercise, to drink, eat, to stay and to think. Among the villages, I love Longjing 龙井, Manjuelong 满觉陇 and Yangmeiling 杨梅岭 most. I climbed the mountains, and drinker the tea, and rate it as my favorite village in China. (Well, this is a very biased view, since I only visited very few of them. But anyone has the right to do the rating anyway, right?)

Here are some photos from the trip:

Above is the picture I drew at Longjing.

The Jiuxi (Nine Creeks) area:

Drove to Hangzhou and Back, in a Day

To have a travel companion is very important to long distance driving. I drove to Hangzhou, 2 hours, this morning from 9:30 to 11:30 am (well, in Hangzhou, it took another 30 minute in traffic), and back in two hours (7:00 to 9:00 pm) with Jim, Jack, and Jiangfeng. The trip was nice with a car full of interesting people. :-)

P.S. It is OK not to speak Cantonese…. :)

Taxi as Bottleneck of Hangzhou

The Shanghai to Hangzhou high-speed train just takes 45 minutes to get to Hangzhou, but today, we took another 45 minutes waiting in the long line for a taxi desperately while there are basically no taxi coming.

On the way back, it is also horrible. At round 4:00 PM, there are empty taxi everywhere on the street but none of them would take passengers, because it is the time for them to get back (all of them) to taxi company, and handle over the car to the driver at another work shift. There is basically no way to get to the train station to catch up that really fast train.

Taxi has been a keep bottleneck to my experience in Hangzhou now.

Pedestrian in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is a city full of innovation in public transportation.

Look at what they did to traditional pedestrian in Hangzhou!

They put an arrow on the right side of the pedestrian to indicate the side for people to walk.

What do you think?

Other innovation includes

  • LED display board to show how far the next bus is from the bus stop.
  • Dynamic car lanes that changes according to traffic
  • Real time traffic camera on cable TV
  • A big camp at every interaction on the bike lane so people can rest in the shade of the umbrella at the Sun, or when it is raining.

Train is Better than Car to Hangzhou

I am back from Hangzhou via CRH Train. I would still highly prefer train over cars to get to Hangzhou from Shanghai, especially for international visitors. Here are some advantages of train:

  • Train is faster – 1 hour and 30 minutes for train, but car can easily take 2 hours – both does not include the travel time in Shanghai or Hangzhou city.
  • Train is safer – I am not happy with the safety record of Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway (aka A8). You have to deal with many full stop on the road – scary.
  • Train is more modern – look at the photos of Hangzhou-Shanghai train, and Beijing-Shanghai train – it is so beautiful – just like a five star hotel.
  • Train is smoother. Of cause you don’t expect that the train is completely still at speed of 170 km/hour, but you just feel very comfortable sitting there. Don’t try to stand up thus – you cannot stand there without holding something if the train is turning directions.
  • Train is reliable – 1 and half hour – with error within several minutes.
  • Shanghai South Railway Station – this is the bonus tip: You will regret if you don’t use the Shanghai South Railway Station during your stay in Shanghai – it is wonderful.
  • Train is better for a group of people – either poker or chat is good on train, not car.

So, the next time, I would use train over car – always.

Hangzhou Photos at the End of 2008

I cannot imagine how close Hangzhou and Shanghai is these days, after the D-Train (CRH train) connects the two cities.

The Schedule

The schedule for this trip is perfect – I would highly recommend people to use this schedule for a relaxed trip to Hangzhou. Disclaimer: this is by no means a good trip for first time visitor to Hangzhou. If you have been to Hangzhou for 4 times or more, and just want to relax during the weekend, this is a good choice.

  • Wake up late in Shanghai and have brunch.
  • Shanghai to Hangzhou via D665 (13:12 – 14:30).
  • Settle down in a youth hotel, or nice small hotel – talk or have a cup of coffee.
  • Visit a nice restaurant and have good and cheap dinner.
  • Hang out late
  • Wake up late, and have relaxed lunch.
  • Walk alone West Lake, or take boat for one hour.
  • Hangzhou to Shanghai via D670 (14:55 – 16:20).
  • Dinner in Shanghai and relax.

Shanghai South Railway Station

Shanghai Railway Station is now the middle point of Shanghai to Hangzhou trip. If you arrive at the South Station, you maybe have completed half of the trip. Me, as an example, took 1 hour to get to the train station via taxi -> Line #4 -> Line #1, and took another one and half hour to Hangzhou.

I know I have posted many photos of the big round roof of Shanghai South Railway Station, but every time I visit, I cannot help taking a picture again.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

The problem for the South Railway station is, the transition between Metro and Station is still too hard. I would rather give up the Shanghai – Hangzhou Maglev plan, and spend more time to make the transition smoother. That can save the total amount of time used on road.

On Train

The current D-train does not have electronic outlet. But the 1 and half hour trip is OK for many laptop. We watched a movie on the way.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Note: the laptop is not provided for your trip. :-)

In Hangzhou

Hangzhou always have nice places to eat and to shop. This is my most favorite restaurant.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

At the Wushan Plaza, here are some interesting stuff.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

West Lake

We cannot visit Hangzhou without a glance of the West Lake. Here you are. West Lake looks great even when it is raining.

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

I do love Hangzhou, and I will be back with Wendy and Yifan soon.

Returned from Hangzhou

Over the weekend, spent our last weekend in Hangzhou.

Hangzhou is so close to Shanghai with the new D-train. I will post more pictures later after I upload them

P.S. Everytime I am in Hangzhou, and after my visit, I feel I should have visited Hangzhou more often.

CRH Train from Shanghai to Hangzhou

I just took the CRH train (or the D train) from Shanghai to Hangzhou. The journey is only 1 hour and 23 minutes, from 1:12 PM to 2:35 PM.

I have the chance to take some photos to share with my readers. I know many of then are wondering about how to get to Hangzhou. To take train to Hangzhou from Shanghai South Railway Station is definitely a good option.

The train head.

This time, there are three trains connected together, and they are connected this way, so you cannot get to another train if the train is moving.

The seat – hmmmm.. pretty soft.

Inside the train cart.

There are toilet and washroom on board.

On the train, the LED display always tells you the current speed of the train (from 130 km/h to 170 km/h), the outside temperature, and the internal temperature (23 degree C today).

There is a small dining room on the train also.

with some food supply (from 6 RMB to 12 RMB)

There is a bar-style table in the middle. Nice to have someone gather there and play poker.

There are drinkable water, of cause, but the short journey does not need it.

Inside the cart, with people sleeping (sweetly)

It provide rack for large luggage at the head and rear of the train cart, so you don’t have to pull it into your seat, or put it on the over-head cabinet.

Here is where your small luggage and bags go:

Third photo of the internal equipments:

That is the nice train…


However, along the “Train of Harmony”, in Shanghai, residents are not happy. Along the residential area, many buildings put on signs like this:

On it, it reads:

We are human. We eager for quiet life!

It is not enjoyable experience to have many trains running at 150 km/h stone-throw away from my bed.

Shanghai to Hangzhou by Taxi

I talked with Alex in Hangzhou. He took a taxi Shanghai South Railway Station to Hangzhou. The fair is 280 RMB for four persons, or 70 RMB for one.

How did he make it?

From Shanghai to Hangzhou

It is about 2 hours ride from Shanghai to Hangzhou. The distance is 192 km.

If you take a taxi, and the taxi charges by meter, it should be at least 560 RMB (since it is 3.15 RMB per km after the first 10 km). Many taxi drivers ask for the same amount of fee for the return trip, since they have to go back with an empty car.

So it is not rare that people charges about 1000 RMB to go to Hangzhou.

The Chain of Profit Ecosystem

Alex was approached by someone who claimed to be able to send them to Hangzhou, at only 280 RMB (or 70 RMB per person) using taxi. Frequent travellers said it is OK to do that, so they followed those guys.

They used a taxi to send them from the Shanghai South Railway Station to the entrance of the Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway, and then drop them off. There, that guy’s partner waved to stop taxies with Hangzhou plate, and asked if they are willing to take four people back to Hangzhou at 100 RMB.

Many taxi drivers agreed! Since they send their passenger to Shanghai and they HAVE to get back with an empty car. It does not hurt for them to make more money. So even if it is only 100 RMB, they did the job.

Finally, the 280 RMB was broken into two part – 180 and 100. People in this value chain get what they get.

Warning – don’t try it

Repeating the story does not mean I think it a good idea. Don’t take it if you have any other choices. It is too risky.

I just feel it is interesting that someone are making money this way.

Back from Snowing Hangzhou

Back from Hangzhou

The express way from Hangzhou to Shanghai was quite empty today. There was not much traffic – I believe it is not the rush hours yet. 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm is not the typical time Shanghai cars get back from Hangzhou. The big bus was confortable. My personal preference is always to take bus over train. I feel to have more personal space on the trip instead of a large cart on train. Most of my friends like to take train, since it is safer, and more on time.

It snowed heavily when we left. I worried that the expressway may be closed soon if the snow continues for 1 hour. We were lucky that very soon, we left the snowing area. It didn’t snow in Shanghai section of the road, while the snow continues in Hangzhou for quite some time.

One observation: the expressway have been extended from 2 lanes before to 4 lanes. At a service area, I saw a notice to drivers:

Do not use the left most lane in a four lane express-way too long – you will be fined for 100 USD if caught by policement.


Hangzhou is so nice, but the traffic in Hangzhou is really a mass at weekends. So complained by many people in Hangzhou. It may be because many people rush to Hangzhou to Shanghai. :-)

Hangzhou looked so beautiful this time to me. The west lake, and the mountains, look great whenever it is rainy or sunny, or snow, like today.

2,880 RMB Round-Trip to U.S.

Got an email from Northwest Airlines. The latest promotion from Northwest is surprising. They offer 2880 RMB (about 350 USD) for round trip flight from Shanghai to San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland. The criteria is to book before April 24, leave before April 27, and get back before June 11. Sounds attractive.

Hello From Hangzhou

I am in Hangzhou.

As always, whenever I put my foot onto the soil of Hangzhou, I feel the pace of life slows down. I always appreciate the beautiful scene and the cultural stuff in Hangzhou.

Went to a over-street eating-place tonight, with nice food and beer. As the old sayings put it: “Happy Lives are those simple and cheap lives.” I totally agree.

People in Shanghai should come to Hangzhou more frequently. Hangzhou has a lot that Shanghai does not come. It helps to balance the lives and soul in Shanghai.

From Shanghai to Hangzhou

Echoing people’s question about how to get to Hangzhou from Shanghai, here are some suggestions I gave before:

Besides that, here is more general guidelines. Take it as strategy while others as tactics.

  • You should plan 2 days in Hangzhou – at least one night is Hangzhou if it is not a business trip.
  • Don’t worry about rain. When it rains, the West Lake looks better. It looks like great even in a storm (like last Saturday night).
  • Staying in a hotel near the West Lake is important. Shangri-la is a good choice, but it is just too expensive – around 1000 RMB, which is about double the price of many other hotels. On average, hotel expense in Hangzhou is higher than other cities – even comparable with Shanghai.
  • Drive there is a good option. Rent a car in Hangzhou may be better – it is just great to drive in the city than walk.
  • Train is great, but do book round trip tickets so to save some time – the West Lake is near the train station, so it is better to wait at the lake side instead of the crowded railway station

Driving in Hangzhou

Driving in Hangzhou is totally a different experience than walking in the city.

  • The mountains are near the city and the city is part of the mountain.
  • The traffic in east part of the city is good – the winding road in the mountains are wonderful.
  • Zhejiang University is nice – it is nice to see startups in ZJU are very active.
  • The West Lake is much clearer than before.
  • The recent re-construction of south side and east side of West Lake turned Hangzhou is a very decent city for bars and restaurant.
  • It is only 168km between Shanghai and Hangzhou (only counting the express way). It took about one and half hour for us to drive back to Shanghai.

Hangzhou’s Entrepreneur Spirit

I am visiting some partners in Hangzhou again. For the second time, I am quite impressed by the entrepreneur spirit in Hangzhou.

Recent, the Internet center seems to be shifting a little bit out of Beijing and to cities in th south. Hangzhou starts to be a center. I visited some smaller companies and found the developers there are great, and they have great ideas for the new generation of Internet.

Hangzhou is city that make people quiet. When people goes near to the West Lake, their pace naturally slow down. Time is not so critical a matter as in Shanghai.

For the young people graduating from universities, their salary requirements are not as high as Shanghai, because for basic living, Hangzhou is much cheaper. (If we talk about luxurious apartment and visiting nice bar near the Lake, Hangzhou may be even more expensive). They have much lower pressure to survive than in Shanghai so they can concentrate more on coding and innovation.

Hangzhou, as the capital of Zhejiang, is also a capital for private owned companies. Many private investors put their money into small startups and make them easier to raise money. Although international VC and big domestic VC don’t visit Hangzhou as often as Shanghai, the investment requirement for small startups is typically smallers, which make it a perfect place for startups.

I have the impression that Hangzhou may have good potential for the next round of startups in China – something like the Bay area.

Good luck guys!