Hangzhou Adventures - Part 2


Holidays = Party time!

Entertainment ranks right under food on my list of priorities. :)

I find it rather amusing that I don't exactly get to experience Singapore's nightlife but I managed to experience Hangzhou's nightlife. Ah well, at least that was a first.

For the first time in my life, I stepped foot into a legit bar - Freeman bar. No one bothered checking our ages (but of course I'm old enough to enter). 

Oh right, so this is how a bar looks like. Previously, all my understandings of bars were limited to ClubMed's bar (I sneaked in when I was only 1.5m tall and obviously a kid) and bars in television dramas. 

There were really talented singers, drummers and keyboardists performing live. 

And there's alcohol. 

And there's pool! Heh. Do I look pro yet?

I recall the first impression of me during Freshmen Orientation Camp last year was "Most likely to get picked up in a bar". Maybe I looked like some wild child then with my dyed hair and all (but that was before I had gotten my third ear piercing). Well, some random dude in the bar came over to comment on my game, saying that I had a high chance of winning... but he was wrong. That was the closest I have gotten to talking to strangers in a bar. 

Aside from bars, there are KTVs in almost every mall you see in Hangzhou. 

The interior of the room. 

And their EXTRA HUMONGOUS fruit platter. I am still in awe of the amazing knife-wielding skills of the staff who sliced the watermelons and designed that look. 

Needless to say, I hogged the mic for the majority of our session, and had fun trying to be a wannabe singer. My poor family had to endure my off-tune screeching for the entire time we were there. *Not that guilty* >.<

If you intend to shop in Hangzhou, thinking of great steals and deals better than what you can find in Singapore, give up that idea. It is IMPOSSIBLE to find anything cheap (besides stationery, street food and taxi rides) in Hangzhou. A brand-less T-shirt or blouse in shopping malls could easily cost up to SGD100 and above. As for branded items, please go buy them in airports. At least they don't charge luxury taxes and GST in airports... 

Alternatively, you could always try your luck in wholesale centres like 钱江小商品市场 but the haggling game is strong. It vaguely resembles Bugis Street in Singapore and Migliore in Korea. You have to definitely cut the proposed price by at least half (or to a third) and be extremely firm before you get a worthy deal. It will be easier for you if a local accompanies you to the wholesale centre to help you bargain in the local dialect. If you can't find a local, then at least speak proper Chinese when you bargain. Please don't try sounding like a foreigner or they'll charge you ridiculously high prices. However, don't expect much from the quality of the items bought there. 

This was some interesting art exhibition at 武林银泰 mall.

The inflation in Hangzhou is nightmarish. A movie would cost RMB50 (not too expensive if you convert it to SGD but the price is preposterous for locals there.) A drink at a cafe like Caffe Bene would cost around RMB 40 and a single meal at a restaurant can cost you hundreds, or even thousands, depending on the quality of the restaurant.

I'm glad that I was able to dine in one of the top 3 ranked restaurants in Hangzhou, Shao Bing Seafood Restaurant. As expected from restaurants of its standard, the price for one meal is steep. No surprises there. At least the food, service and ambience was well-worth the cost on our first visit. We were actually so hooked as to visit it a second time within a week, but who knew the experienced chef resigned, leaving the rest of the service crew flustered and the new chef to screw up the dishes. :(

The exterior of the restaurant. 

All their seafood were amazingly fresh. When the staff courageously dipped his arms into the tank to grab at the huge Hokkaido crabs with their gigantic pincers, I feared for his safety. 

Customers get to choose whichever way they liked their seafood to be cooked. Steamed, braised, spicy-stir fried, Hong Kong style, chilled, raw, whatever. You name it, they'll cook it. 

Our lounge was so huge it had a separate tea table, a dining table, a coffee table (complete with real posh sofas) and an adjoined toilet. 

Now, that's the life. 

No wonder people always joke that they would want to be tai-tais. Haha. Too bad I'm destined to be a workaholic for life. 

The plethora of dishes! 

My favourites would be the "Cold Salmon and Geoduck Clam", "Garlic Steamed Hokkaido Crabs", "Roasted Pigeons", "Hotplate Clams" and their "River Prawns with Roe". 

Perfect for seafood lovers like me! :)

Each lounge had our own waitress, so service was super efficient and our wines were refilled almost immediately. Used to the Singapore-way of 10% service charge, I didn't expect it when the bill didn't have that additional charge in China. Apparently everything was nett-priced. 

I would prefer to leave with a good impression of the restaurant but our second visit wasn't exactly pleasant, with tediously long waiting times and oily, salty, and rubbery-tasting dishes. URGH. >.<

As it rained for quite a few days when I was there, and I didn't like sightseeing in the rain, I went for hair straightening plus hair treatment to while away time. When I heard the cost after I had it done, I was like O_O

The original price was twice the cost of what you would have to pay for the same treatment in Singapore. That was crazy. Thank goodness for VIP cards. 

Their eyelash implantations sounded cheaper than in Singapore, but I wasn't vain enough to go for those treatments. 

One word of advice? Exchange enough currency to enjoy your holidays (or at least keep some credit cards by your side just in case). It wouldn't be fun getting strapped for cash and ending up hobo-ing on the streets. 

More posts on sightseeing coming up soon~

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