Since Jean's sister lives and works in Japan, she doesn't get a chance to see her sister often. However, this last week, her sister came to Shanghai on business. As such, they of course took advantage of this opportunity to hangout.
Jean also wanted me to meet her sister, but Saturday they were doing things in Shanghai, and I was in Changzhou. Sunday I was free, but they had plans to just go shopping all day in Hangzhou, so Jean suggested I meet them in Shaoxing on Monday, another city here in Zhejiang province.
Come Sunday night, Jean called me and told me they were really tired, and to just meet them in Hangzhou, which was not a problem.
So I met up with them, and we went out to West Lake. Now, Jean's sister has been living and working in Japan for 10 years, so she can speak Japanese fluently. However, she knows little English, and my Chinese, while not terrible, is far from complete, and not quite conversational. So, unfortunately for Jean, the brunt of communcation was either directly between she and I or she and her sister, with smatterings of translations when I didn't catch something important.
By the time we got to West Lake, it was about 11:30, and I was starving because I had eaten at 6am, and then only a bowl of cereal and an apple. The times Jean and I had gone out to West Lake before, I had noticed this bar/restaurant called "Borassa" which seemed fairly nice and had some outside tables with a nice view of West Lake. We decided to try that place for lunch. However, once inside and looking at a menu, Jean's countenance saddened and she said disappointedly, "This is a Chinese restaurant, not a Western restaurant." It's not that anyone dislikes Chinese food, it's that they were looking forward to having something a bit different, and the decor and style of this place screams foreign, and yet, they served Chinese food. So we ended up just ordering some beers and french fries and talked about where to go for lunch.
I originally suggested a German restaurant: it's certainly different enough from the norm, yet still tasty, and not too bizarre. However, after a quick internet search, it seemed Hangzhou lacked a German restaurant. We finally decided on Papa John's which was about one block away. After a nice thin crust pizza and some ribs as an appetizer, we grabbed a Blizzard from DQ, and went for a stroll around West Lake to help all of our stuffed bellies feel a bit better.
We walked around, chatted, rested, took turns sneezing (all 3 of us seemed to be sneezing that day, I'm not sure why, maybe a high pollen count), and took a few pictures when the opportunity seemed appropriate. Later, we headed back toward downtown as the girls wanted to get a little bit more shopping in. At about 5 o'clock, I boarded a bus back to the Hangzhou North Bus Station, because I had to return to Huzhou that day for a class on Tuesday.
Jean's sister seems like a very cool chica, and when the two are together they are constantly laughing. She also invited us to come visit her in Japan this summer, so I may get to go to Japan after all!
Tuesday, Jean accompanied her sister back to the airport in Shanghai and said goodbye. After Jean left the airport in Shanghai, she got on a bus to the Shanghai South Train Station, waited 30 minutes, boarded a train for Hangzhou, and from there took the late night (and often crowded) bus back to her apartment.
The worst part for Jean is, after all that, when she finally arrived back at her place, her sister had at the same time just arrived back at her home in Japan. In the time it took Jean to get to the airport in Shanghai back to her apartment in Hangzhou, her sister hopped an international flight and was fetched from airport to her home. This says two things: A) Japan isn't all that far from Shanghai, and 2) Traffic in China, especially buses, is a pain the ass.
Update: Jean tells me they weren't shopping in Hangzhou on Sunday, but instead were in Haining, where they sell lots of leather goods.