Xixing Ancient Town, Binjiang District, Hangzhou

Siqi and I went with his parents for a walk in Xixing Ancient Town. It’s a historic neighborhood surrounding an old canal that used to be important. A couple of old houses have been renovated and decorated as trendy coffee shops, and we saw a few people posing for photos on an old bridge like tourists, but it’s largely still a pretty quiet residential neighborhood (according to the Wikipedia page for Binjiang, inhabited since the Spring and Autumn period, which ended in 481 BCE), complete with unmentionables and other laundry hanging out to dry. There are a few signs in Chinese and English describing the landmarks.

See below for 18 photos from our stroll.

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A Stroll by Nan Hu

It was a Saturday. Siqi and I took a walk near where we live.

Looks pretty dense and urban, right?

Yes and no! Yuhang District is developing so fast it makes my head spin. And there were already a lot of these tall housing blocks in the town of Yuhang before the latest wave of tech company offices and transportation infrastructure got built. But Zhejiang Lab, where I work, was plonked down in the middle of a bunch of farms on the other side of Nan Hu (South Lake).

I commute from one side of the lake to the other five days a week. It takes about 20 minutes by car. Siqi drives me or I summon a car and driver using an app, which costs 15 to 25 rmb (3 to 5 Singapore dollars, 2 to 4 US dollars).

Now that they’ve opened up a bike and pedestrian path beside the lake on the east side, we can actually try to enjoy living near this lake. Eventually I think they’ll build a path that goes all the way around.

See below for 13 photos from the peaceful water’s edge.

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A Trip from Hangzhou, China to Tirana, Albania

We did not go to Albania on a train. That was just the first part of a long journey!

I made this on https://www.greatcirclemap.com/. (Yeah, we flew over Russia…)

For the first time in a long time, I got on a plane (two planes, actually) to go somewhere for fun that wasn’t my hometown. But first I got in a taxi, and on a train, and in another taxi, and spent the night in an airport hotel, and took a shuttle bus, lol.

Why Albania? Siqi was invited to a workshop, and I decided to take leave from work and go too. I’d never been to Albania!

We left on the evening of Tuesday, January 23 and returned in the afternoon on Monday, January 29. We had three full days in Albania, which I’m posting about separately, and then we did the whole journey again in reverse.

See below for more on the journey from Hangzhou (to Shanghai to Frankfurt) to Tirana, Albania.

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Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, translation by WJF Jenner

After spending over 2,000 pages with a trickster god, I find myself wondering what the appeal of the trickster god is. I don’t think I like tricksters.

Clever underdogs, yes. Arrogant tricksters? Not so much.

This post talks about my impressions after reading a complete translation (and a modern retelling) of the classic Chinese story of the Monkey King and his companions.

Visit We Love Translations: World Literature in English for a complete list of translations:

» What’s the best translation of Journey to the West?

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Weird English

Signs, product packaging, clothing… sometimes I notice weird English here in Hangzhou. Sometimes the cause is a typo, sometimes it’s negligent copy/paste, and sometimes it appears to have been a complete shot in the dark. Sometimes the result is close-but-no-cigar, sometimes it’s hilarious, and sometimes it’s mystifying.

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Flowers at Zhejiang Lab Nanhu Campus

I posted about the trees that bloomed at the start of spring. Here are some non-tree flowers that came along subsequently. I’m astonished at the beauty and variety! There are roses, irises, lotuses, and many kinds I don’t know the names of. It’s so good to be able to walk around and just look at this stuff. There’s a lot to see.

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Food Festival

Why was I at this food festival? Not to eat, ironically!

I’ve been eating too much, completely without realizing it, because I didn’t bring a scale with me to China. After I finally got one, and finally got batteries for it, and finally put the batteries in, it gave me bad news. (Even without converting the kilogram readout to pounds, I knew it was bad news.)

So it was decided I need to walk more. Fine. During the weekend, rather than drive to visit the nearest mall, Siqi and I walked. It was really hot, and also kinda rainy, but we walked there anyway. (We both carried umbrellas, to ensure that it would not start raining harder.) And lo and behold, when we got there, there was this festival. Wait till you see one of the carnival games they had there!

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