This past Sunday, we escaped the sprawling metropolis that is Shanghai in a quest to find a glimmer of old China. Recovering from our travel snafu the previous day, we hopped on a train for the hour-long train ride west.
Hangzhou, as opposed to Shanghai, is far more traditional Chinese city—as evidenced by everything being written in Mandarin and the conspicuous absence of any western restaurants—and the presence of some truly spectacular examples of historical Chinese culture.
“Yo! Check it!” – Pudi
Our first stop was the former residence of Hu Xue Yan—one of the richest men in Hangzhou at the turn of the twentieth century.
It was amazing to see such a tremendous feat of craftsmanship of the entire complex—providing a stark contrast to the metal skyscrapers which seem to multiply on a daily basis in Shanghai.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the home was a series of caves leading from the lake to various homes on the western side of the building.
Both Phil and Pudi “did the most” by spelunking through the caverns—and taking pictures of each other as Chinese tourists looked on in what can only be described as a mix of contempt and disappointment.
Phil eating street food over the garbage. Classic Phil.
Venturing onwards, we realized that at some point we had lost track of Pudi. Unbeknownst to us (at the time), Pudi had aimlessly wandered down a side alley and was subsequently sucked into a time vortex and sent back to 1600s feudal China. Despite not knowing the language, Pudi quickly gained the respect of the people of that era with his uncanny ability to flex and prolific use of the word “bro.” After a series of unfortunate run-ins with Ming dynasty officials, Pudi reorganized and united the various Manchurian factions, consolidated the Eight Banner military system and launched an assault on the forces of the Wanli Emperor.
After a prolonged campaign, the Ming forces were eventually overpowered by Pudi’s far superior forces (who had the advantage of intensive weight training and a steady diet of protein pancakes—but no cross-fit. Seriously, do you even lift?). Pudi was subsequently crowned Emperor Pudi and thus began the prosperous reign of the Pudi Empire.
“He’s so tall!” – Chinese observers
Justin and Phil (who through his expert broken-Mandarin was able to piece together what had happened) subsequently traveled back in time, found Pudi, apologized to the Ming Dynasty and had any record of the Great Pudi Conquest stricken from the record—however it later became the basis for the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.
We ended our trip with another traditional Shanghainese sit-down meal, which Phil expertly ordered through his amazing ability to simultaneously point to pictures on the menu and stutter in broken Chinese.
Sorry, John. Had to add this one…