11.  Epilogue


Again, this journey of exploration to Huangshan and Hangzhou offers me another unforgettable opportunity to admire remarkable beautiful landscapes and to come in close contact with a fascinating history and culture.


Though there were a couple of hitches along the way, this travel adventure was still a memorable one and this was mainly due to a flexible itinerary we had and also as a frequent traveler to many out-of-the-way places, I would expect  to encounter some disappointments along our journey.


For all my travel adventures, I would draw up a flexible itinerary with a reputable Tour Agent in the country where I would be visiting. I drew up the itinerary of this exploration with Johnson of CITS Huangshan. When we were in Huangshan City, we had a couple of changes to our itinerary because of inclement weather up in Mt. Huangshan. But with a flexible itinerary, we managed to cover some of the scenic spots in Mt. Huangshan we had planned to visit.        


In finalizing our itinerary, I needed to book a service apartment in Hangzhou for our ‘free-and-easy” stay there from 25 to 30 Nov. Through the Internet, I located one near West Lake called “West Lake No. 7” and asked our friend, Jenny Zhang from Wuyishan to make a booking as she would join us in our stay in Hangzhou. However, when we arrived at the West Bus Station in Hangzhou City and hailed a taxi to take us to the apartment, the cab driver just could not decipher what I was trying to tell him though he knew the street’s name where the apartment was located! Luckily, Jenny had already checked into the apartment early that morning and when I telephoned her, she told me that apartment was called “Nan Fang Jin Zhou” or “East King Plaza”! What if Jenny was not in Hangzhou?


Also through the Internet, I was given to understand that West Lake No. 7 was located near the West Lake and one could admire the West Lake’s beauty from the apartment. Though the apartment was big, clean and posh, it was located in a busy section of the city on the east side of West Lake. Though the old streets of Hangzhou were nearby for meals and shopping, it would take about 15 minutes to walk to the West Lake.


Before my departure for the exploration, I was under the impression that West Lake was a holiday resort in Hangzhou City. But I was totally mistaken as West Lake is not only the centre of attraction in Hangzhou City but is also located in the centre of the City. According to statistics, the urban population of Hangzhou metropolitan area had a residential population of about 4 million as of 2003. In traveling around Hangzhou, one could easily notice that many new high-rise buildings were sprouting out all over the city and its surrounding areas. In my opinion, Hangzhou’s well-known trade mark as “Heaven On Earth” may soon become a thing of the past!     


However, there was one occasion which caused a lot of anxiety to me for a short spell and that arose because of my carelessness. One day when Lucy and I finished visiting a part of West Lake in the late afternoon, we could not get a taxi to return to our hotel. There were private vans hanging around but to take one to the hotel would cost RMB50 as compared to RMB15 by a taxi. As we were still waiting by the roadside, a car stopped beside us and enquired where we wanted to go. When told of our destination, the driver said the fare would be RMB30. Without any hesitation we hopped into the car and on the way to the hotel I had a casual chat with the driver, a polite young man in his 30s. He enquired about the date and time of our departure for home. When told, he said he would be happy to fetch us to the airport from our hotel. Before alighting when we reached our destination, the driver wrote on a piece of paper his telephone numbers and his name, Ying. He also told me that the fare to the airport would be RMB90, slightly cheaper than if we were to take a taxi. Because of his friendliness, I decided to accept his offer and told him that I would call him in the morning on the day of our departure.


At 10am on 30th Nov. I called Ying and asked him to come to the hotel to fetch us to the airport at 11am. He agreed and punctually he came. We loaded our main luggage in the car boot and I sat in the front seat with my sling bag which I deposited on the floor near my feet. The bag contained, amongst others, my two cameras and mobile phone. We had a pleasant trip to the airport. Upon arrival, I got out of the car after paying him the agreed fare and with Ying’s help we loaded our luggage from the boot to a trolley. After bidding Ying farewell, we moved the trolley into the departure hall.


While I was looking for the direction to check in, Lucy asked me where my sling bag was! I was totally shocked to suddenly realize that I had left it in Ying’s car! I was feeling completely helpless and traumatized by the loss due solely to my own carelessness. Without the mobile phone, I could not reach Ying and even if I were to borrow one or use a public pay-phone I still could not do it because Ying’s contacts were in the bag!


Desperately, I walked out of the departure hall to the place where we said goodbye hoping against hope to see Ying. In a minute or so, I suddenly saw Ying walking briskly towards me with my bag clutched in his armpit! He handed me the bag and told me to open it to see if anything was missing. I shook his hand and thanked him profusely. I then took all the notes from my pocket and tried to give him, but Ying steadfastly refused to accept. Before we bade farewell, I thanked him again for his honesty and trustworthiness and assured him that he would have a bright future ahead of him.


 What if we did not meet Ying and we took a public cab instead?                        


Last but not least, I always like to taste local food and beer/wine when I visited foreign places. In Huangshan and Hangzhou what I treasured most was the locally brewed grain wine!




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