Thursday, March 26, 2009

Weekend at the Zoo

This past weekend Jean and I went to the 杭州动物园, the Hangzhou Zoo (literally, Hangzhou Animal Park).

We left her place Saturday morning and headed to the bus stop. The bus we needed to take, the 315, came by a couple times, but was extremely crowded, so we decided to try and nab a taxi (which for some reason, all day, I kept calling it a tab, like I wanted to start saying taxi and finish saying cab).

However, when a taxi came by, we said where we wanted to go, and the driver said the traffic that wasn't too good so he didn't want to go that way. We decided that since the zoo wasn't too far (3 stops on the bus), we'd just suffer through the crowded bus for a bit. So, we hopped onto, nay, squeezed into the next 315 that came by and went on our way.

Now, the zoo is about 3 miles away from Jean's apartment. At the time, however, I didn't know how far it was. Anyhow, the bus SLOWLY, in some seriously heavy traffic trudged to about halfway there. Then everything just came to a complete standstill. Just for reference this was at about 2:30 in the afternoon. Some people asked the bus driver to open the doors to let them off, and about half the bus emptied out, including ourselves. (FYI, to give an idea about the sardine-tight packed-inness of the bus, even after half the bus emptied out, there were still no seats available.)

Jean said she didn't know exactly how to get to the zoo from that point, but as it turned out, it was on the same road we were on, just about mile and a half down the road. I should point out, we walked the remaining mile and a half, not hoofing it, just walking relatively leisurely, and we beat not only our bus, but we passed an earlier 315 bus on the way. The traffic was not moving at all. Even Jean admitted that while traffic is usually heavy in Hangzhou, it rarely was this bad, a dead stop.

Anyhow, we did ultimately arrive at the zoo. I did, however forget to bring my camera. I still took some pictures with my camera phone, but the quality is nowhere near as good as my camera. But as someone probably once said "the worst picture is the one not taken."

I have several pictures, but I won't bore the blog readers by putting them all up. But here are a few of the more interesting ones:

This one isn't interesting per se, I just like that the monkey area of the zoo is called 猴山, hou shan, literally, Monkey Mountain.

Here is China's most famous animal: the panda

Here they have some fake panda statues just outside the panda exhibit. These pandas look awfully fierce!

Here is a rather scrawny looking tiger. Don't get me wrong though, I still wouldn't want to mess with him. Though I have to say, the tiger kept pacing back and forth over a stretch of about 3 meters, almost as if it was a nervous tic, kinda weird.

This one by itself is also rather ordinary, BUT, this was my favorite animal growing up. Why? Because I was always short and wanted to be taller.

Finally, a particularly sad elephant. Seemed like he was imprisoned, and during this, what I guess was its feeding time, it was chained to the bars. (Just so you know, the elephants did have a Large outside area, but they were just inside for that time I suppose to feed. It's still pretty depressing, but at least the elephants don't have to just sit in that small room the entire time.)

By the way, when we left the zoo, we planned to go into town to eat. But after about 2 hours in the zoo, the traffic outside was still stopped. So we walked the remaining 2.5 miles into downtown, and we still got there faster than the traffic.

On a different note, I learned a slightly interesting fact. Mashed potatoes in Chinese is 土豆泥, "tu dou ni". "Tu dou" is potato (literally "soil bean"), so I had just assumed that the "ni" (泥) meant mashed or smashed or pureed, or something to that effect. Actually, "ni" (泥) literally translates to mud, not mud-like consistencies of things, but plain old "dirt-and-water" mud. So, mashed potatoes in Chinese translates to English literally as "potato mud." :) It actually makes sense, but it also seems pretty funny.


  1. interesting. I will never look at mashed potatoes again without thinking about mud...but that Won't stop me from eating it!!!
    What a unique experience you are continuing to you need to have Jean come over and show her our zoos (Lowry Park, Brownsville, San Diego...)!