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Cool options for when the heatí»s on


UNLIKELY as it may seem this cool and soggy summer, at this time of year Hangzhou residents are usually seeking respite from high temperatures during their leisure time. This can involve hanging out in former air-raid shelters that are home to bars, theaters and even a fun fair; taking walks along mountain tracks; paddling in creeks; or simply seeking out bargains and snacks at night markets.

Here Shanghai Daily recommends five typical entertainment options that help locals get through the (usually!) sweltering summer months.

Night markets

Roadside stalls are mostly banned downtown, but Wushan Night Fair is an exception. It runs from Renhe Road to Huixing Road with more than 400 vendors.

Though open all year around, it enters its peak period in summer. When night falls, ití»s packed with Hangzhouí»s fashionable young things hunting for trendy goods í¬ whether clothes, shoes, bags, clocks, lighters, computer accessories, DVDs, jewelry, porcelain, cosmetics or hair care products.

And while browsing for a bargain, there are plenty of food stalls where you can grab a bite of local snacks at prices cheaper than in restaurants.

Not far from Wushan Night Fair is Hefang Street, which also has lines of stalls. Unlike Wushan that mainly sells daily commodities, Hefang appeals to tourists. Hangzhou souvenirs, knickknacks, crafts, ethnic clothing and jewelry, plus Hangzhou specialties including Zhang Xiaoquan scissors and knives, West Lake silk parasols and brocade, Longjing tea and local herbs can all be purchased here.

Visitors are advised to take public transport as parking is limited.

Most stalls only accept cash.

Paddling

What could be more summery than taking a cooling paddle in a creek? Hangzhou boasts springs, creeks and shallow rivers, where you can splash about to your heartí»s content.

First choice is Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies. This is a summer wonderland í¬ covered with lush vegetation and crisscrossed by streams. Having negotiated streams and valleys, walkers arrive at a landscape of fields and folk houses, where you can take a break and chow down in family-run eateries.

Meanwhile, at Hupao Spring visitors can sample some of the water. The spring water is noted for its sweetness and abundance of minerals. It goes well with Hangzhouí»s famous Longjing tea.

Air-raid shelters

This month, 11 air-raid shelters officially opened to the public for the summer, offering a subterranean refuge from expected high temperatures.

Originally built as shelters during wartime, they later became air-raid shelters before being converted to their current more peaceful use. They are open from 8:30am to 10:30pm every day through August 31.

There are restaurants and bars í¬ including the Forest Bar í¬ a venue for Yueju Opera performances and Wushan Fun Fair, located in the biggest of the shelters.

They are also pretty chilly, so take a quilt if you plan to hang out there.

 

Hiking

The mountainous area to the west of Hangzhou offers cool and quiet amidst the summer heat, with fresh breezes and shade from lush vegetation. In addition to popular hiking routes, there are several less-traveled paths hidden away among Hangzhouí»s hills.

Jiu Li Yun Song, which literally means nine miles of pine trees, was an early wooded area created during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). However, its pine trees didní»t survive without interruption í¬ the last were felled in the 1930s.

However, after 1950 they made a comeback, with a path flanked by pines created on the site. Today, walkers can enjoy the fresh pine scent carried by the breeze as they walk along the path.

Meanwhile, the bamboo-lined path offers quiet and shade on summer days. Both sides of the trail are flanked by tall bamboo, resulting in the temperature being two or three degrees Celsius lower than the surrounding area. Along the path, hikers can see ancient trees, as well as historic pavilions and steles.

Night snacks

Night snacks play an indispensable part in summer socializing and the most authentic are found on the street. To provide a hygienic environment for sampling night snacks, a few years ago Hangzhou government developed the center part of Gongshu District into a night snack block, where three food streets, Gushui Street, Dadou Street and Xinyifang Street offer a wide range of delicacies.

The 550-meter-long Gushui Street along Shengli River features everything from donkey meat and chicken feet to spicy Sichuan specialties and delicate local dishes. In addition to having yummy food, the street offers a watertown atmosphere, with orange and yellow lights festooning old houses.

Traditional style also characterizes Xinyifang Street, with its black-roofed white houses. The street is renowned for its lively bars and seafood stalls.

From Shanghai Daily / Hangzhou Weekly | Daily updated Hangzhou news

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