Hangzhou, China is the place that I have been calling home for the past 3 years. More specifically my Chinese home, I would never hear the end of it if my mother knew I referred to china as my home.
Hangzhou is located in the southeast of China in the Zhejiang province, of which it is the capital city. It is ideally located as many other popular cities are within reach, most notably Shanghai, which is as little as 50 minutes away by bullet train.
The Chinese often refer to Hangzhou as Heaven on Earth, and if you take a walk around its many parks and temples it is easy to see why. The most famous attraction is the West Lake and during public holidays and weekends it can be extremely hard to maneuver around the lake due to the sea of people! The lake also features on the 1RMB note, highlighting its importance within Chinese culture. In addition to the West lake and its natural beauty Hangzhou is also famous for Longing tea and silk, both of which can be found in an abundance.
There are around 9 million people living in Hangzhou and many expats on top of that, so there are enough people hanging around to keep life entertaining. The city itself is getting more popular with each new year. It is home to the famous Alibaba company (an online market place, imagine Ebay meets Amazon), September 2016 saw it having the pleasure of hosting the 11th G20 summit, which was the first to be held in China, and in 2020 it will hold the Asian games. Slowly, but surely this vast city is creeping out of the shadow of its Shanghai counterpart.
Why do I like Hangzhou? The answer is easy, there is everything you could want here. It has the perfect balance of traditional Chinese culture, while still having a western environment that every foreigner living abroad craves. This doesn’t mean that life here is idyllic, it just means that it is very much a liveable city. You can walk down small, confined streets with local people going about their day as they have been doing for centuries, take a few turns and you are confronted with the biggest Apple store in Asia! The juxtaposition of these two lifestyles is what I love about the city and why I have stayed here.