May 11, 2010

Light Show

From Shanghai to Hangzhou we traveled by bus. This took three hours including bathroom breaks.

It makes you wonder if Hangzhou really is worth the wait.

All I have to say is that it doesn't disappoint.

While Shanghai is more obviously modernized, Hangzhou is a larger but less densely populated province that, when you explore harder, is actually a home for the richest of the rich, but also the poorest of the poor. For every Hyundai or Toyota, there are two Maseratis or Ferraris. When you get a good job you're able to buy all sorts of expensive stuff, however the problem with Hangzhou's society is that income distribution is screwed up. A lesser job would still have people begging the streets for alms, because there really is no established middle class. There are no ilustrados; there's just filthy rich, and piss poor.

Our tour here consisted of sightseeing and boat riding. The beauty of Hangzhou somehow persists, as it has historically been a source of much inspiration for poets like Li Bai, as well as a vacation home for famous figures like Mao Zedong.

For dinner we went to a restaurant that was also presiding over an informal corporate party (boss's birthday it seems), and like any birthday party, there's gonna be a bit of singing all throughout.

All I have to say to that is: there's a reason why many famous Chinese singers come from Taiwan.

Afterwards we were slated to watch a huge play based on Hangzhou literature. The province is prominently featured for its affection for love stories, and the play is no different. Basically a bit Shakespearean, the play's a bit about a girl who dressed like a boy so she could be educated. She falls in love with another boy but boy is ignorant. When girl goes home, boy discovers her love but alas it was too late because mother arranged a marriage for her back home. The finer details I'm not quite sure, because the play was actually mostly silent and only driven by lights, music and body language.

Directed by Zhang Yimu, the same dude who directed the always famous 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony, the setup can be a bit hard to describe. The set is open, meaning the stage doesn't have a roof, and the backdrop relies on Hangzhou's famous Western Lake, with the trees in the background illuminated by differently colored lights.

Howls of amazement echoed unanimously as the first moment happened, with a guy in a white suit walking on water, trees being illuminated part by part, changing in color, the water pristinely reflecting every moment. Water effects, light effects, moving pagodas, it was an epic visual treat.

After that it was already 9 in the evening. Hotel time.

Without expectations we went to our room, and lo and behold a LG Scarlet HDTV welcomed us along with a surprisingly spacious room. Looks like this Landison Plaza Hotel is no joke, it's the real deal. How... swanky.

As Stephen Tobolowsky says, "a part of success that is underrated is the part when you live to see another sunrise". Well, if I'm gonna make it through to see a new day, might as well do it in style. Okay, maybe I murdered that quote's true meaning. You know what, I'm gonna stop now. Like, right... now.

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