Just wanted to post a little update after arriving in China four weeks ago. We’ve been in Shanghai for a little longer than intended, due to a couple unexpected complications and what my husband calls the molasses speed of the paperwork process we encountered. But! We are scheduled to head to Beijing this coming Tuesday, and I am relieved to be nearing the end.

I don’t know what it is… the first time I was in Shanghai, I was absolutely smitten with the city — the history, the sophistication, the friendliness of the people. All of that is still true, but I guess this time around I’ve been more exhausted. We moved three times in less than two weeks (and still haven’t arrived at our intended destination). The weather’s been typically hot and humid (though the air quality is much better here than in Beijing). And the addition of a baby this time, of course, complicates things a bit, including how much longer it’s taken to get over jet lag (he has, though, been quite good overall!).

All of which to say, I have done virtually nothing in Shanghai and consequently have hardly anything of interest to report back here.

We did, however, take the opportunity last weekend to go visit some DC friends who moved to Hangzhou last year. While we were heading out that way, we decided to take a little getaway trip for our anniversary (which happens to be today!) to the bamboo forests of Moganshan. More on Moganshan later, but here’s a bit on Hangzhou from our trip last weekend. [Link updated.]

There’s an old saying that goes, “In heaven there is paradise, on earth there is Hangzhou.” It’s purportedly one of the most beautiful cities in China. Given how industrialized most cities have become in China, though, I’m never quite sure what to expect. Perhaps that was for the best, because it allowed me to be pleasantly surprised by just how lovely Hangzhou actually is.

The city of Hangzhou is so refreshingly lush with trees and water. It actually smells naturey! Our friends Melanie and Brian took us on a nice long walk through their treelined university campus and on to West Lake and then back to their apartment.

To give you an idea how hot it was, here’s our poor little guy trying to stay cool.

On our way back, we stopped at Pur for dinner, a favorite of our friends’. We started with a carafe of lemonade that included lemon, calamansi lime, and passion fruit — a fragrant tropical drink that really hit the spot after a hot afternoon of walking.

Even little E seemed to be doing better (well, he had food but not lemonade :).

For the meal, we were eager to try some of our friends’ favorites — a cold pumpkin appetizer dish topped with parmesan, and tofu cubes in a nest of bread covered with tomato sauce. We also ordered a couple meat dishes, a claypot rice dish (bo jai fan), some stir-fried water spinach, and mango sorbet. It was all really well done and, what’s more, came to only about $8 (US) per person.

In the end, Hangzhou turned out to be just the break we needed: trees, water, fresh air, good food, and good friends!

Update (5/13/2013): The Hangzhou friends we visited tell me Pur is no longer what it was — skimpier portions and not quite as good food. Nevertheless, here are the details, and more (including a map) can be found in a review here.

Pur 朴墅餐厅
Qingzhiwu, 61 Yugu Road
Phone: 0571 8720 3383