Teaching excitable seven year-olds with a hangover is not recommended. The kids can almost smell your weakness and unanimously decide to go absolutely mental. Today was a perfect example, although the hangover was well-earned. We spent our weekend in the supposedly dinky (four million inhabitants) hamlet of Hangzhou, about a 90 minute train ride from Shanghai. When Marco Polo visited in the Olden Days he proclaimed Hangzhou the most beautiful city in China. Naively, or perhaps just desperately optimistically, I presumed the place would have retained some of this ancient charm. Wrong. It was chaos from the word go, about as charming as Stalingrad and filled with taxi drivers I like to call ‘dirty rip-off bastards.’ However, after a fair trek we found a hotel and the main purpose of our visit – West Lake. It was essentially, just a lake, but it holds huge historical significance, with blokes from as early as 800 AD passing laws to keep it pretty. They’re dead now of course, so god knows how long they’ll keep it nice for. And it is that. Nice. Lots of waterborne walkways and overhanging willowy trees (They weren’t willows but you know what I mean. I’m not a bloody botanist). After a boat ride (another rip-off) and some more exploring we got down to the serious part of our day off and hit the bars. This continued on the train back home and on to a pool hall where I was promptly thrashed by one and all, and then on to some neon night club where they sold vast pitchers of beer (yup, another rip off) and a local man attempted a dance off with me. Let’s just say I redeemed my pool defeats and the vanquished body-popper moonwalked home in a huff. The night finished with my buddy Ben spewing on my leg. Another classy night out then, and a stonking great head ache this morning. On second thoughts it probably wasn’t weakness my kids could smell in class today, but my poor little tarnished leg. Lovely.


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