For the past few months poor planning and a misunderstanding on the part of my boss made it impossible for me to take any time off from work. At some point my boss realized that we were a shit school in the middle of nowhere, would never be busy, and lifted the ban on my taking time off. I should note that this ban didn’t seem to apply to anyone else. So the moons aligned and the arcane symbols were drawn and I made a dash to Ningbo with a friend. A good time was had by all, and I learned that not everything in China sucks. Notably, some cities in China don’t suck. But I want to elaborate before I go on that I don’t think I would be happy there perennially; the city is small, and while it was fine for a few days I could tell that it would be uncomfortably small if I stayed there for an extended period of time. In fact, this will be a short post because Ningbo didn’t really strike me as having all that much to offer.
But I previously complained about the poor infrastructure decisions that make Hangzhou so god damned unlivable, and that is the aspect of Ningbo I wanted to focus on. I walked around Ningbo a bit and I there felt that claustrophobic sensation that I often feel in Hangzhou. The sidewalks, for one, were wide, and I didn’t have to rub ass-checks with a stranger to pass between the narrow gap that exists between a store and the iron railing medium that demarcates the end of a sidewalk. City blocks were also reasonably spaced out, and so you didn’t get bored walk from one end to the other. It also gives you a realistic idea of how far you’ve gone. There was also, even in the little that I explored, more diversity between city blocks, making the city a whole lot more interesting to walk around in. It also looks like Ningbo is spending a little more money and care into developing the river front, so as to make it nicer. Hangzhou hasn’t really done that.
So, as for my trip? It was largely uneventful, but in a good way. It gave me ample time to do those things that I enjoy, like walking around the city, finding a place to stop to do some leisurely reading and writing. I found a wonderful hotel, a wonderful bar, and a wonderful cafe. There was also an Indian restaurant that came highly recommended, and it was so good that I ended up eating there twice.
The one disappointment with Ningbo was Laowai Tan, a neighborhood that is supposed to be overflowing with foreign bars and ex-patriots. Laowait Tan seemed nice in and of itself, but it was completly over-run with Chinese people. If you have lived here long enough you quickly learn that nothing in the world makes a bar less interesting than it being over run with Chinese people. They have a completly different, and antithetical, drinking culture. Maybe it was the fact that we were going there a few days before spring festival. I will probably go back to Ningbo, and I will try it all again next time.
So TL;DR, I went to Ningbo and had a good time in my own lazy way.