Marco Polo described it as one of the most beautiful city's that he has visited, but in reality, these days Hangzhou is anything but the most beautiful city in the world (let along China). I was very surprised that a recent article in Oryx, the in-flight magazine for Qatar Airways, described Hangzhou as a premier honeymoon destination and compared it to Paris and Mauritius. It may be a honeymoon destination for many Chinese people, but they are giving the wrong information to the world, and to foreigners, that Hangzhou is a honeymoon destination- it is not. Hangzhou is no where close enough to the Maldives, Mauritius or Paris. The city is heavily polluted and the only decent tourist attraction is West Lake. Apart from that it is like any other city in China.
Having lived and worked in Hangzhou for a year, I can say that I only saw the sun for about a month in the whole year and only got to see a blue sky for a few days in the whole year. Other than that the sky is usually cloudy, heavily polluted (especially around Binjiang District where the Headquarters of Alibaba.com are located) and it rains a lot here too. If you are thinking of coming to live and work in Hangzhou from Europe or North America, then think very carefully before you invest in the time, money and effort because the pollution is a major factor.
Even in these photos you can see that the sun is struggling to shine through the polluted sky. Apart from Lake West, Hangzhou is more of an industrial city these days. Yes, there are the Longji Tea plantations and the Xixi Wetlkand (which is rather boring, unless you just want to take a look at birds all day), however, in my opinion, even Jinji Lake in Suzhou is a much better because it is less crowded and quieter.
Chris Dyer and his wife Joanne in the User-Experience and Design (UED) department at Alibaba in Hangzhou. Highly intelligent yet eccentric and quite talkative, Chris was instrumental in leading the UED team. From my experience, his personality resembled a cross between British politician Boris Johnson and Richard Hammond (Top Gear). He had this bouncing buffoonery and love of whiff-whaff (sometimes repeating/stating the obvious in a patronizing way), which all seemed to be part of a carefully calibrated performative act at Alibaba. Always wearing sunglasses, even on a dark and gloomy day. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Kyle Shannon Smith, the all-time nice American guy living the Chinese dream. Popular with staff, and highly intelligent, Kyle was the man to go for anything content related. I can say that he was very Chinese...perhaps more Chinese than most Chinese people. This was evident in his daily morning greetings in Chinese....even if you replied back in English, he would respond in Chinese! His reason for being in China was because he had a Chinese partner he had to take care of (he was also working at Alibaba.). Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Don't believe what the travel brochures say...in the past 10 months, I have only seen a blue sky on about 6 or 7 days! (it really is that bad...PM 2.5 levels go over the roof sometimes...).
The weather's similar to the UK...miserably cold (slightly humid), cloudy...just different way-point to the east of the longitude!
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