Off the Beaten Track Hangzhou Itinerary - including Skunk Cafe & An Abandoned Railway Track!

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Before we wind down the amazing year of 2017, here's a travelogue drop on my final days in Hangzhou. I was there alone wandering about for... two nights and two days, and certainly when Amie is left to her own devices, she's going to explore deep around the city - as much as I can after going to all the major tourist attractions in Hangzhou. :) Sooo let's go! :)



The first evening had me wandering into the nearby bookstores and H&M/ Uniqlo, most of my time marinating with the books here. Other than Taiwan, guess the best Chinese bookstores can be found in Chinese cities (duh) with a lot of creative titles and books. I snapped quite a few titles for future reference and could not resist picking up a few books too. 


Rise and shine in Hangzhou~ My first destination for the day was Hefang Street and surrounding areas, mostly for its food and historic architecture which was very well-maintained. It is considered part of the Laocheng District of Hangzhou, with multiple streets and lanes rather than just one street.


I had to cross a few roads and a bridge before I reached Hefang Street!



Hefang Street has been restored before, but they maintained the architecture as it is during the late Qing dynasty (ie. the last of the dynasties in China). I took about 3 hours to enjoy the whole area slowly, but that's because there are a lot of things to see around here!




A family of bronze statues that recreate a family photo taking scene.



The whole place has some interesting features, including this 'character chop'! This reminds me of the Beijing 2008 Olympics performance.


OK time for some selfies now that I'm alone, it's hard to take nice full-length photos!



 There's a pretty exquisite and grand mosque in the middle of the street.



Some interesting wall writings which I think are really pretty :)
"百链香螺沈水,宝薰近出江南。一穟黄云绕几,深禅想对同参。"


There are many boutique shops selling random knick-knacks, medicinal shops, craftwork, souvenirs etc, which is probably the biggest draw for the tourists around here.





There are really a lot of snacks and delicious street food along this stretch, but I went for the most popular guotie, which was really fragrant, juicy and delicious! One of the best guotie I've had in my life. The ordering process was chaotic because there were so many people jostling for it!


Other than the traditional Chinese snacks, there are also many interesting cafes around the area... one of which is this "Skunk Cafe" in Hangzhou! This really unique cafe, called Jeano Coffee Shop, is inspired by Nepalese decor and interior, plus - I doubt there are other skunk cafes in the world! it is officially a 'cat cafe', but there were more skunks than cats in there :p


It is alive, not a soft toy, okay! It is super cute and active, running around the huge playpen allocated for it. It is also not smelly at all, maybe a little (a bit like a regular zoo) but not overwhelmingly so.


Here is another skunk, sleeping! It looks super comfortable... there were three in total :)


Here is the representative cat of the cafe :)


In order to stay around the cafe to observe the skunks for a bit, I ordered a cake from the menu, I think it was a lemon cheesecake of some sort, it was almost half frozen. Delicious, although it has a slightly strange crunchy-icy texture. I don't remember having mains on the menu, it is mostly a bar / cafe serving coffee and alcohol, as well as desserts. 



A cozy interior with books for you to read as well, so you don't have to bring your own.



They take a lot of pride as a roaster, and a cafe.


As I was about to have a really long exploring day, I skipped the drinks. But this is the bar counter and their drinks prices :) I think it's quite reasonable, in fact slightly cheaper than the rest of Hangzhou.



So yes, if you want to go for something different in Hangzhou, definitely stop by Jeano Coffee Shop to check out their skunks and their adorable cat!

Jeano Coffee Shop 
Nan Song Xian Street Right Bridge Left Alley No. 3
Zhejiang District, Shangcheng, Hangzhou

简诺咖啡
浙江省杭州市上城區南宋御街保右橋西弄3號


This was one of the shops that I spent the most time in, poring over their lovely postcards.

 

More sights and sounds along the way... :)

And as you know, I cannot get enough of sweets, so I went to look for my next hipster cafehop stop, where I found Phantasy Cafe! I actually found another cafe that I liked, but wasn't appealing in real life so I skipped that... Phantasy Cafe was amazing as compared, a huge 2-storey restaurant/cafe establishment that creates amazing desserts and drinks - look!!



I miss this place quite a lot, it has an incredibly romantic ambience, what a waste I was visiting it alone, ha!


This is highly recommended, the mains look super enticing as well but I was getting a little full so I only had their signature Napoleon Cake, which they call it the "Best Napoleon Cake" in the whole of Hangzhou. And this, I believe it!! It's really crunchy and fresh on the outside and the cream inside is soft like a cloud and really fluffy too. Not to mention, it is SO photogenic. *Heart eyes*!

Phantasy Cafe
Wulin Road No.373
Zhejiang District, Xiacheng, Hangzhou

幻想咖啡店
下城区武林路373号


Thereafter, it's time for some crazy exploration... I know I was a little bored being out on my own, so I literally googled for what 文艺青年 (hipster youths) do in Hangzhou, and came across this shady adventurelogue to trespass into an abandoned railway track in search of the "retired green skinned trains". Um, yup so I just followed a very vague instructions and got lost - don't worry, I actually went through the whole thing and found the right path later on so I can come back (alive) to tell the next train otaku how to get there exactly, with better instructions... ;)



Some photos taken while I was lost, which includes wandering into this huge decrepit area where trucks were storing cargo for the cargo trains to transport, I swear it looked like one of those ideal kidnapping places. Anyway I did not get kidnapped (maybe not enough value, ha!) although I certainly looked out of place.


The look of exhaustion while looking for the right track -_- Anyway, I guess you must be really curious how I got to this weird place. If you ever want to try to go, you should try to reach this street, which is already the closest "landmark" that I can take a photo of.


In order to reach this place, you can take bus no. 119 or no. 9 to the bus stop "复兴路紫花路口 (Fuxing Lu Zi Hua Lu Kou)", and walk towards 复兴东苑 (Fuxing Dong Yuan) - follow the map below:


The whole area is a quiet residential which looks decent (not a complex neighbourhood). There are some residents walking around, so if you are really lost, show them the picture above (with the street sign). 


This is what the surroundings of the street sign look like (I got terribly lost, going up the highway above before reaching this place).


Look for this brick-red gate which is at the end of the road mentioned above, which has a yellow sign that menacingly says "Only for Railway Maintenance Staff, Strictly Restricted For Others". The blue line repeats what it says in a more succinct manner.



Time to ignore this sign to seek for hipster wonderland. There is a very simple catch-lock right on the other side of the gate, which you can easily undo by reaching your hand through the gap between the gates. #Rebel

Push through it and enter the station, and close the gates behind you to avoid suspicion. Did I just announce my trespassing on the Internet? The online folks from China did say that the residents nearby and track maintenance folks do use this gate regularly, and it's not "strictly forbidden" for outsiders so to speak... so I guess it's not really "illegal trespassing".


It is pretty abandoned with overgrown plants all over, but that just adds to the hipster feel, right? My only regret is that I was alone, so nobody could take hipster shots of me. *Self timer* 


"Nan Xing Qiao", aka. Nan Xing Bridge. 



Finally here wtf


You're waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope the train will take you, but you can't know for sure. Yet it doesn't matter...


It was quite a sad adventure because I totally missed the afternoon green-skinned train due to a lot of detours. I actually managed to enter the platform at 4PM despite reaching the area at around 2PM.

They still do stop by twice a day, to ferry track maintenance folks and cargo along a dedicated line.
It goes past the following stations: Qian Tang Station (钱塘站), Cheng Station (城站), Wang Jiang Station (望江门), Ken Shan Men (艮山门), Qiao Si Station (乔司站) of a total 25km.

If you are interested, the train stops by at 7.10AM and 2.35PM, it is extremely punctual. I heard the train go past on the tracks at 2.35PM - I was already so near, but somehow the entry point was so difficult to find. So guys, please allocate more time if you're not naturally good at directions.


My adventure came to an unceremonious stop when the security guy found me wandering about, and basically questioned my presence. Obviously I tried to pretend to be the clueless tourist, and he rushed me out of the station without much trouble. (I still tried to ask him to help me take a picture, which he refused. /cri)

The security folks know that there are a lot of adventurous people out there who wants to explore this special green-skinned trains and take a whole lot of hipster shots with it, so it will be difficult to get onto the train at 2.35PM. Your best bet is try to sneak in earlier and also to dress more locally (as if you are going to pick up some groceries). Alternatively, if you are an attractive cute girl, you can try to beg the security folks to just let you onto the train. They are quite used to it.

I am still quite disappointed I didn't get to try the train. This lucky girl got onto it:


Nevertheless, it was quite an adventure.




After all that excitement, I was really hungry and shuffled into a restaurant that was opened, nearby my accommodation. A Seafood Fried Rice with only one prawn, so guess who's not getting a mention. It was pretty delicious though I can't decide if it's because I was starving.


That was all for the first day of adventures, and I certainly had a very deep sleep that night after so much exertion LOL.



Checked out from the accommodation as I was headed to Beijing that afternoon, so I went downstairs with my luggage to check out the 24/7 book cafe. I was tempted to check it out at like, 3AM to see what is it like in the middle of the night, but guess who slept like a log and slept through the alarm.


The pasta was okay (I mean, "Western" meals in China. You can't expect too much), but the matcha latte was awesome :) And I really, really liked the atmosphere there. 



I wouldn't have guessed, but you know what, this cafe is actually linked to the bookstore I went to - see the top of this post. The whole place is cozy as a nest with this awesome 'stairs' area to chill at. Apparently this is a very popular choice of interior design in China.


There are endless of books that I just want to read and read if I had all the time in the world :)


I could really spend the whole day here, but I had to get going... so goodbye for now, Reading Tree. 

Reading Tree Coffee - Coffee Shop Jie Fang Road No.225
Xinhua Bookstore 1st Floor

悦览树
解放路 225 号新华书店一楼



Meow~


Goodbye Hangzhou... you were memorable...


I caught the train at Hangzhou East Station without much incident, and off I go to Beijing. Next post is going to be all about Beijing, and there I reunite with Lexi, my best friend from Melbourne whom I missed so much~ ❤ She was telling me since forever I've been delaying the Beijing travelogues, but yes, it's going to be here, finally!! 

Till the next time ❤ 


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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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