IMG_3744 Earlier today (that's Sunday, May 20th), I went for about a 2.5 hour walk around West Lake and shot some more photos. Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my time at the China Internet Developer Conference where I spoke and got to talk to various people about technology, China, and living in the Bay Area. I even got my picture taken with Jack Ma but don't know whose camera was actually used. Maybe that'll end up on Flickr too.

I still have one day left in Hangzhou (and a bit of shopping to do), but I've observed and learned several things in the last couple of days. Here are the things I've managed to remember, in no particular order...

  • Hangzhou is crowded. But everyone tells me that it's nothing compared to Beijing or Shanghai. Even so, there are just a lot of people everywhere you go.
  • Navigating the crowd around the lake can be tricky, because I'm walking at my "walking with good music on the iPod" pace and everyone else is going much more slowly and seems to have no idea that I'm there. That second bit is quite puzzling.
  • People here seem not to think much of the Great Firewall. The technology savvy folks I talked to said that those who really want to get around it know how to, so it kind of doesn't matter.
  • If Hangzhou is representative of other similarly sized (or larger) cities, China is truly in the middle of a renaissance. Looking around, it's not hard to guess which of the stores and large buildings are less than 5 years old. And there's a lot of new demolition and re-building going on.
  • Hangzhou is quite vibrant and alive at night. Somehow that took me completely by surprise, even though I've had similar experiences in Tokyo and Taipei.
  • As the pace of Internet adoption here continues to increase, there's a very real chance that the Internet will be more Chinese and English before too long.
  • Kids in China don't seem as attached to their mobile phones as those in, say, Japan do. Sure, they have them and use them, but it's not nearly as intense.
  • There's a lot of natural beauty in this area.
  • As an English-only speaker, the language barrier here is certainly an issue. But from what I've been told, that's likely to be far less of a problem in another 5 years or so.
  • I've seen very little evidence of poor and/or homeless. Then again, I'm in a place that people from all over China flock to. So they're either well hidden in areas like this, or they simply don't exist.
  • There are far fewer scooters on the road than I expected.
  • I've seen fewer US-basedfast food chain stores here than I expected. I've also seen very few overweight Chinese folks. I suspect these are related.
  • I'm told that there's a crazy efficient courier/delivery network in China.
  • The food in this region is excellent. I've really enjoyed nearly ever dish I've tried (which is no small number). There's little spice in most of it, but the variety of textures and flavors is quite good.
  • I need to eat with chopsticks more. It had been a while and I'm a little rusty.
  • The roads here are well maintained, but there are some serious traffic flow and apparent problems with signs and good markings in places.

I'm sure there's a lot more I could write, but that's all that comes to mind right now. If I feel so inspired, I'll follow-up in a day or so. Maybe during the 14+ hours of flying required to get myself from Hangzhou back to San Francisco via Hong Kong...

Posted by jzawodn at May 20, 2007 03:47 AM

Reader Comments
# Channy said:

Jeremy, It's good experience about Asian. You'll feel another things in Korea. Although it's very near in China, Japan and China, they have very different culture and degree of Internet adoption.

on May 20, 2007 04:35 AM
# Jeffrey Friedl said:

In reference to shooters on the road, do you mean "photographers", "intravenous drug users," or "gunmen"? (Or, perhaps, was it a typo for "scooters"?)

on May 20, 2007 06:14 AM
# Krish said:

I think poor people live in the rural areas of China. I was watching a 4 part series about China on PBS sometime back. The poverty in the rural areas will make the poverty ridden Katrina affected areas of New Orleans look good. We don't get to see the other side of China often.

on May 20, 2007 10:50 AM
# Rasmus said:

Jeremy and his pink carnation after his talk at the conference in Hangzhou:

on May 20, 2007 11:19 AM
# Klettergriffe said:

Jeremy, thanks for the link to the firewall.

See you soon, Peter :-)

on May 20, 2007 02:22 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Uhm, scooters. Heh. :-)

on May 20, 2007 02:44 PM
# Joseph Hunkins | Joe Duck said:

Hey, this is a great little travelogue for Hangzhou, except there is nothing about Ping Pong Places.

You extreme famous. Good show!

on May 20, 2007 09:50 PM
# Jonathan Mak said:

I'm a Chinese myself but have never been to Hangzhou before (I live in Hong Kong), and I find this post very refreshing and enjoyable to read :)

Glad you like China!

P.S. Yes... China really needs to solve the problem of terrible English translations on signs. Let's hope it will be solved by the time of the Olympics.

on May 20, 2007 10:02 PM
# Rasmus said:

I don't know about the lack of US chains. I see quite a few. There is a Pizza Hut or a KFC on every other corner and a number of Starbucks as well. Heck, they even have the staple of American culture, Hooters!

Of course, they also have weird signs like this:

Don't do drugs or you'll puke in your toilet?

on May 21, 2007 12:03 AM
# Pete Wailes said:

I SO want to be there...

*fumes with envy* :p

on May 21, 2007 01:29 AM
# Henry Loward said:

You can use to access blocked sites.

on May 22, 2007 11:40 AM
# Morgan said:

Rasmus-- sheer cruelty to link to a Hangzhou Hooters EXTERIOR shot. You're sick or something.

on May 24, 2007 11:22 PM
# David.Guo said:

jeremy ,i am a chinese in Hangzhou ,and i had listened your lecture.
Hangzhou is a beautiful city in China.
and ,Welcome to Hangzhou again in 2008.

on May 29, 2007 03:12 AM
# Mia said:

ha, so glad to know that you enjoy your days here! :)

on May 31, 2007 03:28 AM
# John said:

I just got back from Beijing (my first time). I have been to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzen and Hong Kong before. EVERYWHERE in China is crowded - what do you expect with 1.3 BILLION people :-)

China is still relatively poor, so most kids or adults don't necessarily have the latest phones or use the latest mobile services...

Yes, English is not spoken widely in China - or at least not well. This, despite the "English First" campaign China is pushing (at least in Beijing) for the 2008 Olympics.

on July 13, 2007 03:48 PM
# Tom Foremski said:

Jeremy, I was wondering what your thoughts are on Yahoo being called moral "pygmies" and how it has defended its actions that led to ten year sentences for two political dissidents. And I was wondering how your colleagues feel about this issue. I can imagine that you and your colleagues would prefer that Yahoo hadn't done what it did...

on November 12, 2007 02:50 AM
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