Jinhua is in Zhejiang province, just to the south of Hangzhou. After the hectic streets of Nanjing, Jinhua feels really relaxed and chilled out. The traffic is much calmer and the taxis sometimes actually stop to let you walk over pedestrian crossings! The relaxed atmosphere reminded me a lot of my hometown. It was also the only place I’d been to so far on this trip where it didn’t rain although it was a blistering 35 degrees all the time I was there. Which is where the parallels with Sheffield end!
In terms of food, Jinhau is famous for its ham but I was dissuaded from trying it by two of the local teachers who told me it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be and is actually quite unhealthy due to the high salt content. Also a small crispy bun (either sweet or savory) topped with sesame seeds called ‘subing’, although I didn’t see these anywhere. Not that was looking too hard. I didn’t do much quality eating in the two days I was here but I did do plenty of drinking! In fact I had the best time here out of any of the cities I visited on this trip.
I stayed at…
Best Western World Trade Hotel (Intermediate B+), 737 Bayi North St, Jinhua, Tel. 0579 8258 8888 www.jhsmhotel.com
I like Best Western as they usually have a decent breakfast and the rooms are quite plush. This one met the grade although their plumbing needs sorting out with a whiff of effluent sneaking into the bathroom every now and then. The staff were very nice and not over-helpful as they can be in bigger cities. The buildings seem to modelled on the twin towers of the world trade centre.
There’s a gym with four virtually pristine machines but no mats for floor work. Sports and gyms are a new concept to many Chinese people so they don’t get used much. I saw one guy walking backwards on the treadmill which was a different take from the norm.
I found it a bit difficult to find this place but you could phone ahead and ask Danny (who is North American) where it is. Basically, turn left down Bayi St, the main road outside the hotel. After a couple of blocks you’ll see a restaurant called Shannana with red lanterns outside. Turn left down the small side street here and you’ll see Danny’s on the left.
This is a place to come if you are missing Western food. I had a small Spag Bol and a huge plate of chips which were both fine if nothing special (B). With two Tsingtao beers and two G&T’s the bill came to a paltry 160 RMB. They have Wi-Fi too so you can hang out for a while but it was pretty quiet when I went. It seems the local customers need a sign to tell them how to use the sit-down loo…
The Red Cactus (Intermediate A), closes 1am.
This is hard to find as well but from the road just outside Danny’s (ask him for directions), just walk straight over the park, crossing the two main roads, and go up the side street to the right of the ‘Facebook’ building. You will notice some fairly decent graffiti on the right hand wall and the entrance is soon after this. The area is very residential with lots of tower blocks but they have a courtyard with tables outside.
This place is a (Canadian owned?) bar and live venue and it was very raucous when I arrived with a band playing Nirvana covers and noisy young patrons playing games of liar’s dice. I quite liked the atmosphere and stayed for a while, taking advantage of their free Wi-FI.
One of the Chinese teachers recommended this dive bar, one of many bars along a pretty scruffy street, a taxi ride from the hotel. I couldn’t understand why she would come here at first as the street seemed to be full of brothels and the grotty bar was empty and had no atmosphere when I arrived at 9pm.
Things livened up around 11 though with more people arriving and a girl taking to the small stage with her guitar to sing a few covers, including some Oasis songs. Before this though Hua, the hospitable owner, treated me to a few shots of dark Bacardi with a flaming lemon and brown sugar top. After a couple of these we became good friends despite our limited abilities in each other’s languages! I met a few of the other customers too and had a good old chinwag, Cheers style, and after being the first to arrive I was the last to leave. This is a good place to improve international relations!
I quite liked Jinhua and would be happy to go again. If I had time I would have checked out the Architecture Park.