Ningbo is only an hour away by fast train. It is a much smaller city than Hangzhou, so getting from the train station to our hotel was relatively quick. The city of Ningbo is famous for its port and to this day it is still one of the busiest ports in the world! Fact of the day for you all there!
As we arrived in the afternoon we took a leisurely stroll around. The first thing that struck me was just how quiet the city felt and in certain areas somewhat abandoned. This is a very rare feeling to have in China, you usually feel a little claustrophobic and over whelmed by all the different sounds – China can be a very loud place! Unfortunately, we weren’t very lucky at seeing any of the sights. Close to our hotel was an old catholic church, it was mostly restored due to a fire but it was sill really pretty to look at. Rather I should say that it would have been pretty if it hadn’t hidden behind giant screens, scaffolding or had a few dozen beer bellied men just hanging around.
We walked along the river and tried to go to the Seven pagoda temple, new city, new pagoda! We found it no problem and it was still open, but for whatever reason the security guard wasn’t going to let us in! Another disappointment. Instead we headed back towards Tianyi Square, which is a large open area square surrounded by Chinese restaurants and shopping malls. The area was relatively modern and the water front was lined with breweries and wine bars, which are always nice to see. The area has a striking similarity to cities like Manchester and Birmingham. We were lucky enough to be there towards the early evening, so managed to see set and disappear behind the apartments. Not quite a beach setting, but still nice to see neverthelss!
In the evening, we ventured to Laowaitian also known as the Old Bund. This is an area by the water from which is surrounded by bars and restaurants. I’d been recommended to try the Turkish Restaurant and it did not disappoint. I could quite easily have stayed all day and just shovelled humus into my mouth. Laowaitian is a popular area for both Chinese and the expat population, there always seemed to be people milling around during both the day and night time. An area solely for bars and restaurants is something that Hangzhou doesn’t have, so it was nice to be able to go from place to place without the hassle of having to find a taxi!
The following morning, we headed over to Tianyi Pavilion which is home to oldest private library in China, one of the world’s three oldest private libraries. it was so much more than that, with traditional buildings, intricate buildings and Chinese art, it’s easy for the time to just slip by. Being a holiday weekend, there were many people there, so that did take away some its charm. On the way to the pavilion we walked through the moon park, which was beautiful and somewhat of a colour feast for the eye. Over the years I’ve been in China, it’s clear that the Chinese are very good at maintain local park areas. Lots of different flowers all in different colours and perfectly manicured trees and bushes. (Yes, you can tell I’m not gardener, not quite up to speed on my garden terminology!) it would have been even better if the lake, which is the main focal point wasn’t drained!
As the afternoon rolled around we headed, a little further out to Nantang Old Street, which is not very old! The area has clearly been renovated and now houses a Starbucks and Hello Kitty cafe! But, despite this it is a nice area to walk around. The streets are filled with cafes, book stalls, restaurants and craft shops. If you like your street food, it’s the place to go!
My time in Ningbo was short, but I feel that I got a good feel of the city and saw as much as I could in the time that I was there. It is an interesting city to visit, but i’m not sure that I could live there, I have a feeling that it would be too quiet. My trip to Ningbo marked the end of an extremely busy month in and outside of school. I was very keen to take some time to just relax and not have to pack a bag for some time. However I can tell you now that, that isn’t for the following month turned out!!